Another year and another moment to reflect!
This was my fourth full year of doing photography seriously, and eighth year overall. I have certainly come a long way in these four years: learning intricate technical methods to produce modern imagery, shifting my thinking about photography from that of ‘recording my surroundings’ to ‘creating an image with a message’, teaching photography to other like-minded individuals who enjoy landscapes and artistry, and spending time planning and executing how I can make photography part of my life and career.
This year, I spent most of my time on the last point in the above list and trying to build the commercial aspect of my photography. People often ask me if I am a professional photographer, and I am not, since most of my income does not come from photography. Then people ask me if I would ever want photography to be my profession. To this I always say yes! But it takes dedicated planning and work to make photography one’s career — this I have found from my own experience.
This past year, I felt I took some incremental steps that get me closer to the career in photography I seek:
- I continued refining my portfolio. I have come closer to and have displayed a dramatic style and introspective feeling of my images and have worked to elicit some emotion from the viewers of my work. Through some weeding out of old images, refining the editing/finishing of existing images, and adding new images, I feel that my portfolio is stronger than ever — with a mix of D.C., commercially viable photographs and nature/landscape photography, with a bit less commercial appeal but certainly the same or even more passion used in their creation. I still have a ways to go here, but all progress is good progress.
- I expanded my offerings as a photography teacher. I continued conducting workshops as I have since 2012, but this year I introduced a photography bootcamp in which photographers at all levels can build their proficiency from the fundamentals on up and with the stability of one instructor. This was a success, I would say, and I hope to continue offering this in the future to cater to the large amounts of new photographers hitting the field with their brand new dSLRs, mirrorless cams, or even smartphones.
- I began solo exhibitions of my work. Part of this business is becoming known and respected, in league with other photographers and artists. To me, nothing can tell my audience about who I am better than a curated collection of my work printed at the highest quality medium. This year, I have had three solo exhibitions in and around DC of two collections [1,2]. I hope that people will be struck by the work they see and remember my name when they are looking for unique artwork.
There are many other tasks I have yet to do in order to get me to my ultimate goal of making photography my main career. I hope to continue down the path and not lose faith as I know it will be a difficult task.
In the difficulty that making an art a career is, I have also stopped to think why even do it at all. If it is my career, it would be a significant investment of time plus the opportunity cost of doing something likely more lucrative. The simplest answer I have found is that I should do something I love over something I like. There is only limited time in life, and I want to live it with as few regrets as possible. But do I love photography more than I like my day job? I think it’s a combination of factors I love: the feelings of discovery/exploration and wonder of being out in the field and the individuality and artistry of finishing images. To continue experiencing those things in my life would be a blessing and something I will continue to work towards.
Now… on to the images from this past year. As I wrote in my Top Shots of 2013 post, my goal for 2014 was to “…become more “inventive” and “figurative” when shooting in and outside of the city. It is relatively easy to recreate what is clearly in front of you rather than to look just a little longer, just a little deeper, and find that little something that is more unique…”. I think I was moderately successful in this goal. While some of the pictures you see are clearly “right in front of you”, others do take a bit of thought to gather.
2015’s goals related to my portfolio are: to continue being “inventive” with each photograph and with a collection of images, to spend more time visualizing images before I capture them, to illustrate more fleeting moments (that may either be created or captured), and to incorporate more humanity in some of my images. The last point is one that I have avoided for some time, but I feel that going outside of some arbitrary lines will be helpful in progressing me as an artist.
Please do leave any comments on this post or my set of images from 2014. See you next year!