Keeping up with the Joneses
It would seem each and every day when I look through my Twitter or Facebook feed someone who I am following is dabbling in a new technique in wildlife photography. The two latest trends seem to be Drones and Camera Traps, with the latter even having its own BBC owned competition. I'm sure it won't be long before we get a similar specific competition for Drones.
Some of the footage coming down the pipe is beautiful and as folks get more experienced with the technology I can just imagine the types of images which we will see - most likely only limited by the photographer's own imagination. Camera trap and drone footage is opening up a whole new world of Wildlife Photography, especially for those species which have been difficult to capture in the past.
Similarly, the seemingly unending race to capture iconic subjects continues apace, with photography workshops and paid-for hides popping up on an almost daily basis to help one capture pretty much any species out there. Quite often, as I'm peering through my viewfinder at a Tree Sparrow or Roe Deer, I question my own sanity as to why I too am not out there filling my portfolio with Wild Boar, Black Grouse or Harrier images. I've met photographers who spend their free time (and cash) planning their next workshop or hide visit, even before they have finished the one they are on. Don't get me wrong, this is not meant to be a criticism on either the photographer or hide/workshop organiser, rather introspecive look at my own photography goals and path.
All of this can leave an individual, such as myself, questioning the value of their own images and if they should also start to dabble in new technology or indeed focus on iconic species only. This is especially true for me right now as I take the dramatic step of going full time professional. The feeling that everything has been done before. Then I realise an important point to factor in. Many great images may have already been captured by others - but NOT BY ME !
Making my own path.
It's important for me to ask myself why I've decided to take pictures in the first place. Was it to get 1st prize in a competition, have thousands of followers on social media or to become rich through photography? While I don't doubt the fact that it can be nice, especially by one's peers, to have your work recognised and appreciated, it certainly is not the reason why I make pictures.
I myself have been guilty over the past 18 months in hitting the publish button all too quickly on an image and then going back to check the number of Facebook ikes, Twitter Retweets or blog post reads. This really has had zero positive effect on me as a photographer and I felt at times I was simply trying to gain popularity votes. That particular avenue can leave one feeling very frustrated and may actually lead to one loosing sight as to why they are in the photography game in the first place. For me, as I look to develop my own voice, happiness has to be the number one overriding criteria.
My Photography Mantra
So as I step out into the next stage of my life I plan to follow a 3 step plan for my photography;
- Take the images I want to take, irrespective of what others in the field are doing.
- Take my time making those images - no short cuts. And only publish when I feel they reflect the work that I am proud of, not simply to keep my name out there in the photography circles.
- Ensure that through my photography I am continually giving something back, be that education, awareness of an endangered species or even through my own time volunteering on specific projects.
I hope you too can find your own voice and have the conviction to follow it. It will, I believe, lead to a more fulfilled time behind the lens.
Have a great weekend.