Take What‘s Yours

“That’s Me On The Other Side” (Greece, 2014)

The picture above is one of the few I brought back from the island of Santorini and actually developed and printed. Although I had far more, I really wanted something like this as it was totally mine and not what people usually bring back from the island: HDR shots of Oia and Thera with the blue in the domes of the churches and in the sky and water oversaturated. (Another image from Santorini is “I Hated You”, which you can read about here – there even is a description of how to get to the place, Santorini was shot to death from. If you really, really need that.)

I know it is hard to do something different, but it is totally worth it. I’m not talking vacation snapshots here. If that’s what you do, lining up the family in front of the Eiffel Tower is perfectly alright, but that same Machu Picchu shot again? It doesn’t matter at which time of year you set up your tripod at either Inspiration Point or Tunnel View – you’re trying to do “Clearing Winter Storm”. But why?

Practice? Maybe, but that’s one hell of an effort for a practice shot. No, that won’t do as an explanation I’m afraid. But it’s not even me that you have to satisfy with an answer. It’s you.

Ask yourself why you want to do something that has been done before and more than once. And with those iconic shots there’s not really much you can do to make it look different I guess. People will always see the original image and not yours.

Just like we don’t want to copy the style of a photographer, we don’t want to copy their images either. When I play jazz guitar, you can tell who I listen to. you can hear Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall, and Barney Kessel. And I do hope you can. As I am not ashamed to have been influenced by them. But when I play the same songs they play or used to play, I don’t play their solo. So, of course, you might go where Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Walker Evans or whoever it is who influenced you went. Just don’t take the same pictures. Take what is yours and yours only. There is no satisfaction in trying to be someone else.

But realizing why you are doing something and where you are going with this will give you a sense of direction of your work and of yourself as a human being. You don’t want this to be just happening to you. Even if you let outside influences partly determine which path you might take, it is always your decision which influences you like to play a role in your life and which to neglect. This is a dynamic in your artistic and personal life which you are in control over.

So go and look at all these images you like, see why you like them, go to all these places you like, see why you like them and when you have found the place, the moment and the mood that feels like you just have to hit that shutter right then and there, please feel free to do so. Just like in love you’ll know when it’s right. And even if not – recompose and repeat.

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