Hey everyone! I am excited to share the first ever Lincoln Park on a Lark guest post with you today. About a week ago, I realized that I may have, er, overextended myself in the coming weeks. Not only is it the first week of new classes at school, but I have quite a few free shoots – probably the last of them – scheduled right in a row, plus I have some really fun things scheduled with some friends of mine that I’ll share later. The guest posts will be interspersed throughout my own, just so posting doesn’t become non-existant over the next few weeks. I have some wonderful ladies lined up to write for you, and if you’re interested in being a guest poster let me know!
Today’s post comes from Tara Jones, a lovely portrait and lifestyle photographer you can find at her Flare Productions blog. If you like this post and you’re interested in reading more, definitely check out her always helpful posts over there. Thanks, Tara, for putting so much time into such a wonderful post! I loved reading it, and it fits right in with my photography philosophy.
You Just Do You, Umma Do Me
Confession: I love a good rap song. I can’t help myself. I love the classic songs by Run DMC and Biggie all the way to the new stuff by Jaden Smith and Lil Bow Wow. There! I said it! I’m an Anthropologie shopping, Volvo driving, Pinkberry eating, cardigan wearing whitest of white girls who adores rap music. The reason for my confession? Whenever I think about the photo industry all I hear are the lyrics to Umma Do Me by Rocko and I find myself wishing that everyone else could hear those lyrics, too.
A few times a month I meet new photographers who will ask for my opinion of their work and more often than not I find the work they’ve created isn’t really theirs; it’s a recreation of work that inspired them. While having someone to look up to in the industry is priceless, so is their work. And as I search for the right words of encouragement to send back, those lyrics always pass in front of my mind: “You just do you, Umma do me.”
When I was just getting started as a photographer I found myself falling into similar ruts over and over again, which would result in frustration and feeling stuck as an artist. When you become serious about photography, creating amazing photos is all you can think about. Pretty soon you’re eating, sleeping and breathing all things photo-‐related. So, it’s not any wonder that your work can begin to morph into a mini-‐me version of a well-‐known photographer that you look up to! However, that person became well known, because they created from their own heart, from their true self. It’s as if their work says, “Wanna see how it’s done? Then watch me do me!”
The answer to this problem? It’s simple. (Can I get a holla?) Here are my three easy steps to finding your voice in this industry:
1. Shoot what you love. It’s as simple as that. When you’re shooting something you’re truly interested in (not what you think everyone else is interested in) you’ll be well on your way to finding your own voice. And even though it may seem that there are as many photographers out there as there are Starbucks, the world still needs to hear from you!
2. Be your own teacher. I highly recommend giving yourself a personal project every month to keep you on the right track. If you’re not shooting anything for yourself you’re on the fast track to burn out and forgetting why you love being a photographer. So, get out there and gitchasome!
3. Get outside the box. While the clothes may make the man, the camera does NOT make the photographer. Waaay too often I hear new photographers say that if they just had the Mark II or the D3S they could really make work that’s screamin’. But don’t be fooled! Expensive gear does not equal quality creativity.
Let this be the beginning of your portfolio and the work you want to attract will come knocking on your door. Now, I can’t promise that you’ll be become the next Ansel Adams, but I can promise you that if you begin to create with your own vision your work will be so fly like a G6.