Finding Your Voice

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Mike_E, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Good morning everyone.

    There are several reoccurring questions that photographers ask themselves when they begin to take what they do seriously. One of which is, "How do I find my voice?", and another is, "Is there any real meaning to what I'm doing?".

    No, I'm not everyman this is simply human nature. I bring this up because I happened upon a video clip of Chris Jordan speaking about his digital work. Some of you may know that Chris was a fairly well known large format photographer before he switched to digital so he isn't just beginning to take his work seriously. But in human nature, the difference between invention and reinvention is slight.

    The clip is mainly about the 'meaning' part but notice the way he came to find this voice...

    Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS

    Good shooting
     
  2. blash

    blash TPF Noob!

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    Didn't watch the video, but my answer to both essentially is no.

    To me, photography isn't about trying to say something specific to the world - going out and telling myself, "I want to show the hunger" is only going to limit the photographs that I take. If I let myself go free, then my photos are no longer limited to some real-world agenda but rather an expression of my soul and being, sub-consciously reflecting who I am and where I come from.

    Although I'm just a hobbyist, why would I need to find meaning in what I'm doing? Meaning would be defined by everybody else in the world - oh you're a great landscape photographer, these photos really show what's happening in the war and turned public opinion around, or you made newlyweds even happier (or for the hobbyist, perhaps I described the devastation in the inner-city in a triumphant result for local politics). The photography I am doing is photography that I am doing for myself - if someone else decides to attach some extrinsic tag, let them. I don't care. My photography doesn't need meaning, it has a life of its own that I have brought into the world and even if its only me, I appreciate it for what is - my voice.
     
  3. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Same here. Not a big video watcher. But my two questions would be, rather, 'Just who am I doing this for in the first place?' and 'Am I having any fun?'

    If you're not in this for yourself then your interest will wan and that heap of glass and plastic and wire and metal will start to collect time on it instead of creating glimpses of the soul. And if you're not having fun you'll simply find something else to do.

    See, folks can get way too hooked up on cerebral concerns that get in the way of creativity. Make a 35mm pinhole camera from a couple of cannisters and a small matchbox and then go out of the house. LEAVE YOUR LIGHT METER BEHIND! And just point and lift and point and lift (you don't really shoot, you just lift a cover). It is refreshing to do photography without worrying should I bracket? Did I get that exposure just right? Did I hiccup? Geez, folks. HAVE FUN BECAUSE YOU WANT TO. The classification of art and its place in society is for historians. The living are just poor judges of subject matter.

    Just get out there and do something. My God, man. And make sure you have some frickin' fun already.

    Say CHEEZ!
     
  4. fwellers

    fwellers TPF Noob!

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    You sound like the book I'm reading now, The Tao of Photography. I see your point, but I dig where he is coming from. I too look for ways to give meaning to my art/hobby. I don't see any creative conflict with that.
     
  5. invisible

    invisible Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This exactly reflects my thoughts on this topic... word by word :)
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Voice - I don't think I have a voice for all my photography as a whole. There are common themes based upon what I am interested in and where I can and do shoot - but I don't really head out with the intent to put a voice to all my photos from a day. I do sometimes try to put a voice to a specific shot itself if I get the chance - though dealing with uncontroled living subjects I am often at the mercy of their actions and don't the luxury to sit and ponder the site - I just have to take it before its lost.
    Whilst I can find works of people who set out for a specific theme or feeling interesting to study (at times many modern "artists" are rather boring and poor quality to my eyes) I don't really have that aim in my photography at this point in time. I am not saying that I never will have such a move to do so - maybe I want to show emotion about a place or event that is very important to myself or perhapse I am being paid to show such a feeling in a series of shots.


    Meaning - I don't have a meaning to my photography I just have things that interest me that I like to photograph; there are different reasons in this as well - I don't find spiders (on the whole) very appealing to look at and yet I will happily try to capture macro shots of them for the challenge it presents - just as I can happy photograph foxes for hours and not be bored - even if they are in a pen - because I find that they have a beauty to them that I want to capture (and sometimes it works too!)

    Photography to me is a hobby so I don't have to pander to the desires of others in order to do what I want to do. That leaves me free to do mostly as I wish with things.
     
  7. Joves

    Joves No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have plenty of voice. Now for photography I use it to keep the memories of where I have been and, what I have seen. It just so happens some other people like the shots.
     
  8. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    IMO; Voice, vision, style, aesthetic, etc- We all have it/one, but it needs to be developed through practice. The more one practices, the more we know about ourselves, and if we are serious, we try to identify what our art/ourselves is/are about. Possibly that is where talent kicks into the mix.
     
  9. webfltrs

    webfltrs TPF Noob!

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    I think what you mentioned, about expression of your soul and being, is the more subtle form of voice that people do find, but maybe aren't aware of. The more you practice any art, the more options you have in creating your work -- and you can be more selective in what you choose to create, you can be more picky because you know all the different angles you can take. To me, that is finding your voice, how you want to capture a moment or create one. It may be subconscious, but it is there.

    I do think that finding one's own voice is human nature. That voice might be very vocal and directed, or it may be very subtle.
     
  10. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I doubt many here (myself included), have truly "found their voice" even from the standpoint of a human being, much less something more focused like adding the word "photographer" and discovered what this means to them and how they find the answer to that.

    Oh, I am sure we can mostly all tell you what it means, but how they fit in at a metaphysical and interpersonal level... thats another story. :)

    For me, in that sense, I am a mute trying to learn what my voice sounds like... much less discover how to use it properly. :confused:
     
  11. Troesel

    Troesel TPF Noob!

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    I think you should take photographs, using your soul :) For me photography is a great way to show other people my world or how I see their world ;-) And yes, for me it's also there to keep the stories and memories of your whole life clearer and nearer
     

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