I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was still processing all that I learned from Designer Trek this year. One of my biggest takeaways came from a few discussions I had with some other graphic designers about the creative process. As a photographer – or any creator – it’s easy to be focused on the end product, whether it’s an image or a graphic or a website. I know that my thought process as I photograph weddings and family sessions is all about what the final image will look like.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I realized I am losing something big when I focus on the end product – I am forgetting the process of getting there. One thing I was struggling with when I went to Lake Tahoe was creativity. I have photographed so many sessions and weddings recently that it became hard to be freshly inspired each time I arrived. While there are other photographers I greatly admire who can shoot every day and never become boring, I was struggling to ensure that I truly capture who a couple or family is rather than make easy choices when it came to posing, locations, and lighting.
This is what happens when the final product is the only piece of the puzzle. When I go for the safe, happy shot I produce good work. But that is not enough and never will be. Each time I click the shutter I want to be better than I was before. I want the people in front of my camera to have their unique personalities captured forever. I want to be excited not just about the picture, but about how I got there.
I saw this firsthand after I photographed one of my favorite engagement sessions to date. It was a beautiful morning with a couple that is very dear to my heart. But there was so much going on behind the scenes that I didn’t show. The day before the session we had gotten the hard news that our second adoption fell through and we were emotionally wrecked. The next morning I woke up before 5am and drove 45 minutes to the location. I remember sitting there in my car, exhausted out of my mind and grieving, wondering how in the world I was going to survive the engagement session.
Yet when I started, something beautiful happened – in trying to drown out everything else going on in my head I put 100% of my energy and focus on creating beauty. Michael and Jess were amazing to work with and had even spent the day before scouting out colonial Williamsburg, so each location we went to hit me with a huge dose of creativity. I was so focused on photographing this couple and serving them in the best way I could that I forcibly pushed everything out of the way in my mind.
In no way do I think that being tired or overly emotional made me a better artist, but I do know that in those moments I was far more focused on the process of creating than the actual result. And the ironic thing is that the resulting images were indeed some of my favorite ever.
So for the next few weeks I am going to focus on the creation of beauty more than the end of the process. I am going to focus 100% on the process instead of being so concerned with the final image. I am going to take risks, knowing that while some of the images might not make the final cut, the ones that do may be the best I have ever created.
Here’s to creativity, inspiration, and the determination to always, always be better!