For those who don’t know what A.R.T is… it’s an acronym for Artist Round Table. It was part workshop but mostly conversation hosted by Ray Ketchum. Dr. Ray, as I like to think of him is what I would call an Art Psychologist. Sports athletes may use a sport psychologist to help them improve their game. Dr. Ray helps the artist with art. In our case, photography. Anyways, there was literally, a round table for us to discuss and converse about photography, art, and most importantly -what is our own unique voice and how do we find it. Today’s post will hit a few points of what I took from ART.
Well… where to start? There were many discussions at the round table and other venues but all had a core subject -FINDING YOUR VOICE. In other words, are we truly expressing ourselves? or are we echoing what somebody else has taught us? We finally decided that we all have a voice and it is like a finger print and nobody else can copy it. We must be ourselves and let our photography speak for us, not for somebody else.
As Dr. Ray would say, “get out of the way of yourself”. Or, as writer Wes Cecil say’s, “don’t try to be clever”.As David DuChemin says, “shoot from the heart”. To me, these people are saying don’t over think of complicate your photography. Just shoot with your instinct. Your instinct is the true you. Shoot with your gut, your heart, your instinct.
I will use hockey as a metaphor. Sometimes, when a hockey team is desperately trying to score a goal, they try to hard. They tend to cough up the puck to the opposing team by making fancy passes. They try to get “clever”. A coach’s favourite saying would be, “The players are gripping the stick to tight”. In other words, they are trying to hard. They haven’t relaxed enough to let their instinct take over and have fun. That is how goals are scored. Stick to the basics, be relaxed, have fun, and don’t over think.
How do we “shoot from the heart”? or “let our voice speak”? First, relax and don’t get uptight looking for the perfect frame. Enjoy the moment. I have figured out that when I get a little tingle in my chest, I push the button on the camera. That is when I get my strongest images. I have learned it is the true me showing in the images when I shoot with my gut.
This is what happened with the image above. Because I like dogs, I was looking for a portrait shot with the dog, Juniper. However, she wasn’t co-operating with what I was kinda looking for. My gut told me to keep the camera in portrait orientation though her positioning changed to suit a landscape orientation. I kept framing her in portrait orientation regardless of what her movement… and then my gut said, “push the button”. The image above is the end result. I broke some rules without thinking about it. I did not “break the rules” for the purpose of “breaking the rules”. I just went with my gut, my instinct, my heart. The result is a broken rule or two and an image that has a feeling of oddity. Now, I don’t think of myself as too odd of a person. However, sometimes my thinking is odd and I definitely have a sense of humour. Those things don’t show up in my landscape photos but they do with Juniper. I think the image of Juniper say’s more about me and my “voice” than any of my pretty landscape images do.
I know there is a technical issue that I am not happy with but the feel of the photograph works for me. That’s the important thing. That’s why I published it.