Finding Your Voice, it’s a term that gets thrown around within creative disciplines a lot isn’t it. And photography is no exception, in fact we have a day workshop called just this. We ran another one this week, and it’s made me think about a few things, as a few recurring conversations happen every time we run them.
You’ve probably heard a lot about finding your why, a buzz term at the moment, but one we keep coming back to. We like a good Ted Talk like the next person, and you may have already seen the Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, if you want to watch it again, here’s the link. I got goosebumps when I first watched this with a marketing mentor a few years ago. And it’s something we share with our retreaters and workshoppers too. “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” He repeats it, and I can often hear his voice saying it.
On our workshops, we’ve had so many conversations about Instagram, curating our feeds, and the mythical beast that is the algorithm. I know I’ve posted photos that I think fit the criteria, seen the little red hearts beating before my eyes, my dopamine fix sated, for now, until I crave that next hit. And then a feeling of hollowness. Because I didn’t really FEEL that photo in the first place. I’m trying to quiet that voice that says, in a bit of a high pitched Yorkshire accent, ‘Ooooo, that’ll look nice on the grid’.
Why are we taking the photos we are taking? Who are they for? Surely, ultimately they’re for us. Only when we feel something in our images, will our viewers feel it too.
If something catches your eye, don’t overthink it. Take it. Show it. If we’re drawn to a pile of toys lit by the sunlight in the corner of the room, or a peg on the washing line glistening with rain, take it, and try and stop that niggle that might start questioning if it’s ‘right’ or not. We felt something just before we pressed the shutter. If it makes you feel something - BINGO! Surely that’s all that matters, and not creating something we think people want to see. People want to see you.
Let’s ditch perfection.
We’ve had a few people messaging us this week saying that they feel in a creative slump. Sometimes it’s a push to pick up your camera, it’s as if all our muscles in our body are conspiring against us to create, due to fear of failure. But these times of resistance are the times I encourage you to pick it up the most, if you feel you can. The camera can sometimes become a conduit to what you want to say with your images, and a rope ladder to bring you out. When I feel most stuck, I look at an object, say a bowl of fruit, and think about how I can take 10 different photos of it. Setting the scene with a wide shot to show it in the environment, and then a close up of a detail, maybe the stalk on an apple. I’lll try different light and perspectives, maybe holding one in my hand, and if I’m feeling energetic enough, maybe set the camera up on a tripod, set it onto a long exposure, and put myself in the frame walking behind the bowl to create motion blur. When I set myself to do something like this, it nearly always shakes me out of a slump, and gets me thinking about all those things I want to do, and maybe spark a few more ideas too.
We wondered if you’d like to do a week long project, making a commitment to pick the camera up at the same time each day for the next 7 days, that hopefully is manageable? As our monthly Stories Of The Everyday theme is HOME, we thought we could base it around that. When you have a theme, or limit yourself in this way to a time or word, (or even a combination of the two), it can lead to stronger images. If you’d like to join in please hashtag your images on Instagram with #storiesoftheeveryday_home if you want to show them. And I guess we’re all trying to bring it back home, to find what is right there inside, the gems that make our work, and our viewpoints unique.
It feels quite pertinent that Instagram are trialling hiding likes on posts in some countries. We’d love to hear from you if you’re in one of those countries, has it influenced what you’re showing or want to show in the future? I think it’d be great to roll it out here too.
So, are you in? Will you join us for the next 7 days? Just pick a time of day when you think it’ll be most convenient to capture a photo that symbolises home (maybe set an alarm on your phone). We hope it’s a gentle way of just picking your camera up each day to create, and if you feel those niggles, we’re here to encourage you to push through it, and take those photos that make you feel something. Let’s get creating!
We’re going to be running another Finding Your Voice retreat day in October. If you’re interested in joining us, please send us an email to express your interest and you’ll be the first to hear about the next date - firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, we hope you have a lovely weekend, and have fun creating!
If you're in the mood for a bit more reading, I wrote a post last year about not being able to please everyone. If you’ve got a cup of tea on the go, and you want to put your feet up for a few more minutes, here’s the link.