Some of you are familiar with my website – John Mee Photography and the type of photographs that I feature there. It’s mostly landscape and seascape but also some black and white images that I have been introducing lately.
Back in February of 2012, I posted a blog entry on my old website. Entitled “Photographic Journey” it concerned my intentions to return to my photographic roots and start once again to shoot a more diverse range of images. That post got over 15,000 hits. Unfortunately, the original article got lost when I switched blogs.
Stuck in a Photographic Rut
At that time, I had become bogged down in landscape photography – it was all I was shooting!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with landscape and I do still enjoy it, but I really wanted to break out of that mould and go back to what it was that brought me to photography in the first place.
However as the months of 2012 counted down, I still found myself down at the coast, at F22 and squinting into the sunset with waves sloshing around my ankles. My eyes searching for foreground interest and waiting for the light. Most times, I did get the shot and I returned home with that warm, familiar, satisfying feeling.
It all seemed just, well … too familiar!
I’d put the image on my Facebook page and watch the Likes and comments rack up. It made me feel good – or at least, I thought it did! Photography had became a race to see how many Likes each picture got. Creativity got replaced by competition.
Let go of comparing – let go of competing
As well as that, I also found myself in competition with hundreds of other landscape photographers. We were all taking the same shots – all competing with each other to see who could get the brightest sunset, the greenest fields, the sharpest reflections. Except for a few, most of us were just “also rans”.
It was now time to stop competing with others and to challenge myself. Towards the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, my circumstances changed and I found myself being presented with many more opportunities to realise my new years resolution. I started shooting some portraiture as well as some product photography. I also got a chance to practice some architectural imagery. I posted a few of these photos on my personal Facebook page and one or two also made it onto my photography Facebook page.
This new stuff didn’t garner as many “Likes” as the landscape shots. However, this was fine as I had now realised that the race for Facebook “Likes” is a surefire killer of creativity, diversity and photographic honesty.
In the meantime I bought an old film camera (Nikon FE) and now use that occasionally. I hope that limiting myself to the 24 or 36 frames on a roll of film will teach me to slow down, look more closely and think about what I am shooting.
Vision, Plan and set Goals
So, what have I learned in the last few months? I have learned that I need to look outside the photographic genre I have let myself fall into and look inside myself, to try and put my own stamp on what it is that I see. Importantly, I am beginning to explore my thoughts on imagery rather than capturing what I think will amass more Likes on social media.
I have found that setting myself goals helps to concentrate the mind. So rather than shoot single photographs, I aim to produce a body of work. I will pick a theme like square, curves or red or I may document a particular subject. I’ll set a limit of 6 – 12 images. This way, I find I explore the subject more thoroughly and stand a better chance of “nailing the shot”.
In art, everything is ok
Throughout the last 12 months, I’ve explored many new themes. I have also been lucky enough to realise some photographic ideas that have been lurking around the back of my mind for some time. Dreams containing messages are now surfacing and beginning to make sense. These images will make their way onto my site in time. I have been encouraged to capture the world as I see it – the rain, the bleakness, the beauty and mystery that lurks in all our minds and especially the magic that lies behind our perceived reality.
I have endeavoured to get to a place where I felt that my own personal style was beginning to show. However, that style still evades me. It could be black and white or at least, have a limited colour palette. It could be the square format.
Indeed, it may be neither of those. But time will tell, and I would hope that this style will evolve and reveal itself to me at some time in the future.
As I said back in that article of February 2012, it may not be pretty but it will be me.
As usual, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this and how you have developed your own particular style.