I’m gonna go ahead and be melodramatic. The workshop in Paris was an awakening.
I didn’t learn many technical skills (although I did learn some) or gain expert business advice, however what I did gain was much more valuable.
First, let me begin by stressing how much I admire Alain Laboile’s work. I found his work on Flickr about 7 years ago when Logan was just a toddler and I had just learned how to turn on my first DSLR. That’s all I knew how to do 7 years ago. I searched for “documentary children’s photography” on Flickr in hopes to find some inspiration on how to document my first-born’s daily adventures. When I came across Alain’s page for the first time, I felt an instant and undeniable connection to his work. Every single image struck me. His work was magical. His ability to make the most normal everyday moments look riveting and jarring at the same time fascinates me.
After following his work for so long, you can imagine how much anticipation that was building up inside me as my workshop with him drew closer.
After a beautiful slide show of his most characteristic work, he explained how he shoots his images and why. THIS is where my head began spinning and all the light bulbs were illuminating. His technique was so different from my own and I soon realized why his work is so intriguing. He made me think about the capture in a new and invigorating way. He shared with us so many tips on what to include and not include in the image and gave me the BEST constructive criticism on my work. He saw my strengths and weaknesses, even though I was blind to them.
One of the most mind-blowing revelations I had, (even though it’s so simple!) is where to shoot. By that, I mean where I take my photographs. I have felt compelled to take my camera EVERYWHERE since the beginning. Although it’s gained me some much-needed practice and beautiful images, I have never felt comfortable shooting away from home.
Right there, in my chair, at the workshop, I realized I don’t have to shoot everywhere. I CAN pick and choose where I want to shoot. The concept was eye-opening, ladies and gentlemen. I know I could have learned that without having gone to a workshop, but there’s something about your favorite photographer validating it for you. I DO NOT HAVE TO PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING! There, I said it out loud. I don’t have to photograph our trip to the zoo. I don’t have to photograph our time at the pool. I don’t have to photograph our library visit. But, you know what, the content I REALLY enjoy shooting only takes place when we are alone as a family, in our own yard, house, space.
I have put a lot of pressure on myself to capture amazing photos everywhere we go. And yes, I do enjoy photographing my kids when we are at a secluded beach or in the middle of the forest. But I guess I like privacy. When I’m forced to shoot with an audience, (whether people are actually paying attention to me or not) I just can’t perform at my best. Because of that, I’ve been reluctant to share my images and haven’t felt pride in my work in a long time.
So, after this awesome realization, I’ve decided to shoot when and however I want. I pledge to spend my summer sorting my images and giving my fine art photography its own space. On my blog, you will continue to find personal images and stories, (which I will still likely take from time to time just for my kid’s sake) but the majority of my fine art work will be shared in a dedicated space on Facebook and on a new website. (Both are in the works)
I’m excited to finally have direction and a new set goals for my work. Internal dialog about my artistic purpose has plagued me for far too long and has discouraged me from shooting and sharing my images.
Perhaps some of you photographers I know out there can relate. As an artist, staying true to yourself can be a struggle. However, challenges are never overcome without a little perseverance.