Solitary Photography

Solitary Photography

A little bit of introspection today as I was thinking about my images

A few days ago I was scrolling through some of my images and started thinking about the body of work I’ve produced to date. I am no different than many other photographers out there, we have favorites and ones that are not so favorite.  We have ones that capture the viewers attention and/or ones that evoke strong emotions…..and we have ones that are “nice pictures”.   I don’t think I’m different in wanting every one of my pics to be captivating, moving, powerful, etc, and it’s something I strive for whenever I’m out shooting.  I think it’s a little bit of an elusive goal, but one that keeps me striving to improve and progress as an artist. Part of my regular self reflection is related to studying my work, what worked and what didn’t, and striving to build on those things that I feel worked for me.

One pattern that I saw emerging from my self-review is related to who I was with, or wasn’t with, when I took an image that falls in my “great” bucket.  More specifically I noticed that many of my better images were captured when I was shooting by myself.  With that fresh realization in my mind I started turning it over and examining it a bit further.

I do enjoy the company of other photographers, don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy the camaraderie, the shared experience, someone to explore with, someone to share the ride with and all of those good social elements that go along with photography.  I do also like my quiet time, my alone time.  I think that my introversion is just as strong as my extroversion.  Both have their place within me.

However, when it comes to creating my best work, the results show that I do my best work when I’m alone. The reason I think this may be true is that I strive to create a connection with my surroundings when I’m out shooting.  When I have this connection, when I’m in tune with what my surroundings are telling me, I listen to what it says, I follow the ebb and flow, I feel I can see sharper and deeper in to my subject and tell the story that it wants to be told.

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An analogy i have is related to whitewater kayaking…..in that sport, you learn to read the river, you learn to use the rivers power to take you where you want to go and you quickly learn that to try and force anything, to try and go against the flow or go somewhere that it doesn’t want you to go….well, that never seems to work out right.  You learn to “go with the flow”

So in photography its kind of the same thing, read the environment, feel the flow of where it’s leading you and listen to what it has to say as well as what creative energy you are feeling that day. The other part of being solitary and listening is that you can move and go wherever you are drawn as the energy presents itself.  Being without distraction lets me focus my thoughts and see subjects with a quiet calm and notice small details that I might not see if I were carrying on a conversation.

The downside to solitary shooting is that you may miss out on shared experiences with another person, may miss their opinions on comps, Might not see something that they see, or may miss out on good company during a meal. All which are things I do weigh when I choose to go out.

There are times when I do enjoy shooting in the company of others, however, for me to get that deep connection to my subject (and hopefully produce my best work) I find that shooting by myself is quite rewarding.

Have you given any thought to when/how you seem to produce some of your best work?

 

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