Self-reflection is a funny thing. Something that is meant to create a positive awareness in people can also be the culprit of some pretty scary inner-dialogue. But hell, why even put it under one umbrella? I think at any given time self-reflection can be scary, humbling, helpful, assertive, motivating and reassuring all at once.
I think part of running your own business requires a bit of self-reflection daily — am I being a responsible, reliable, and trusting business owner? am I performing my best at all times? am I staying true to my core values? am I finding the work-life balance that I need without letting anyone suffer because of it? However, self-reflection as an artist is even more important — and it’s also where the scary stuff comes in. In hopes of not sounding “woe is me”, it’s one of the things I’ve struggled with the most this year. It was an amazing year filled with so many lovely clients, but I feel like I’ve been spinning around in an anti-gravity chamber not really knowing which way is up….or if there even IS an up. Not that I’m thinking of deviating from photography by any means, but rather defining WHO I am as an artist…. And this goes far beyond what my style is, but rather what do I evoke out of people when they see my images? how do I become a better storyteller? am I putting the talents I’ve been given to use, and fully? do I create impactful, meaningful images? will my clients look at these in 40 years and remember how they FELT? how can I be more objective with my own work? does anyone even care? am I overthinking this again? <— this was a typical Tuesday night after slipping into bed. So yea…this seemingly constructive exercise all of the sudden becomes super overwhelming (you can thank my anxiety-prone brain for that one) and it’s where a lot of my sleepless nights have come from.
Either way, one of my goals for next year is to take a much, much active role in defining this “who”. Why am I drawn to certain styles, aesthetics, etc.? Why do I choose the frames that I do, what makes them work, what doesn’t? Could I have shot this differently to make it even more impactful? I want to push past creating a sustainable business and begin to define what I do and why I do it. Maybe it sounds like added pressure or too analytical, but it’s also the result of wanting to do better, be better, and create better work for those who choose to hire me. I see these things as goals, not pressures.
So, that’s where this little exercise came in. A few weeks ago I blindly asked on Facebook for people to give me words (anything — nouns, adjectives, verbs) and I would pick a few at random and do my best to cater this “Best of 2016” blog post around those words. Holy hell was this hard….so hard, but so good for me. I knew it would be since it was so open-ended, but if anything, it gave me a REAL solid look into the narrative behind my images. This is exactly what I wanted…a little push out of the ‘ol comfort zone.
I learned a few things doing this. I learned pretty quickly that some of the combinations may seem disconnected for “outsiders” (i.e. backstories were crucial when you’re separating a single image from it’s set) but I decided to not care about that. I also decided not to care if some of these were super literal (maybe even silly)….I just tried to instinctively put images and words together — no second guessing them. I also decided the word didnt need to necessarily describe the content — but the feeling, maybe a camera technique, or even how I felt shooting it. Lastly, there were some images I felt could fall into a few different categories, but again, went with instinctual choices over making this post mind-blowinging amazing. Overall, this was a really interesting and fun challenge for me. Also, as much as I would have loved to do all 72 words, this post would have been ginormous, so I threw them into a randomizer app and out popped these. Thanks to those of you who contributed and I hope you guys enjoy it.
2016 curated by a bunch of random words: