One of the things I had a hard time with when I was running my own photography business was the lack of freedom. It sounds contrary right? You become a business owner to have more freedom, more control, etc. And in some ways, you get it. But in others, you sacrifice.
When creating photographs for clients, your portfolio of work needs to be consistent. Similar tones and colors, an overall similar style. You find a single way of shooting and editing your images and you stick with it so that prospective clients know what to expect. It’s an approach that works.
You lose so much when you are constantly trying to put your own photography in a box.
When I look at my client work over the past five years, I can recognize that it’s good. It’s been published in multiple places, but I don’t see how it’s any different from anyone else’s. There’s nothing unique or different. It is exactly what the client wanted/expected and my own vision is absent.
I hope to get back to making photographs that show who I am, what I value. I relish the freedom to create a moody black and white on a dismal day and a light filled golden hour portrait the day after that. While I am organized and detailed in every other area of my life, I want to be able to experiment with my photography, step outside my comfort zone and create something reflective of that moment, regardless of all the moments that came before or the ones that will come after.
I have long since said that my favorite thing about photography was history. Many people don’t think of it that way, but it is a historical record. Someday, generations from now, someone may look back on my images the way I look back on images from decades past. It’s a window used to get a glimpse into a world we can only imagine.
Realism has always been a driving force in my work.
I’m not interested in Photoshopping something into fantasy. I won’t make a woman look 20 lbs lighter or remove all the wrinkles from someone’s face. Because then the historical record is a lie. And that’s tragic. Yet, that’s what people wanted. Over and over I turned clients down because they wanted to spread that lie to the world. They can, that’s their right. But I didn’t want my name on it.
Real life is often ugly. But there’s a kind of beauty in that too.