Journal

Photography, photoshop, and the philosophy of taking pictures by photographer Bill Wadman, co-host of On Taking Pictures.

Being Special

I'm more than a little cranky today, so excuse this potentially adolescent rant.  I've just got to get something off my chest and onto this damn screen

I shot a bunch of portraits for a client recently and when they came back to me with their selections for which images they wanted me to process, all of them were boring. I mean, they were fine pictures; reasonably sharp, correctly exposed, no goofy faces, etc.  But they weren't interesting in the slightest, and I'll admit that it really made me fume.

In amongst the others that they didn't choose were a number of really cool shots which in my opinion were really special photographs. The kind of shots that I knew were special when I pressed the shutter.

Now I know that they're the client and they're paying and all that. But I couldn't stop thinking, "Why did you hire me when what you wanted were pictures that ANYONE with a camera could have taken?  You've seen hundreds of examples of my work, why bother asking me when what you want are glorified mediocre headshots?"

I know that I've got to make a living at this and all that jazz, but I don't want to bother going down this road if I will end up as some run of the mill photographer who's work is nearly indistinguishable from anyone else's.  I felt that way with my old career in art direction, completely replaceable at every step.  A cog in the great wheel of commerce.

Look, there are plenty of very talented, technically excellent photographers who make a good living and are very happy giving the client what they want. And if that's you out there, I'm very happy for you and I mean you no disrespect.  In fact, it would be so much easier if I could be more like you. This is all about the crap that goes on in my head. It's about my completely irrational and mortal fear of failure, of mediocrity, of becoming average.

My goals in photography are multi-faceted.  I want to satisfy clients, sure, but much more importantly, I want to satisfy myself.  I want people to want me because they want what I can uniquely give them, not because they just need a photographer.  It's like that line from The Fountainhead where the Dean says to Howard Roark, "Who's going to let you build like that?" and Roark replies, "Who's going to stop me?".  I want to make art.

A friend quoted the "They don't call it show art, it's show business" line a few days ago.  And while he's right, I don't have to like it or take it lying down. 

I'm going to fight to be noticed.
I'm going to work to be exceptional at what I do.
And I will not compromise my beliefs.

The only people that really change the world are those people who think they can.

Consider the world 'on notice'.