Sometimes people will mention that a certain type of commercial photography is in demand, such as wedding, aerial, oil, or other commission work. I often get asked at shows if I do portrait work. I typically avoid these gigs and I’ve always thought it was because “people are hard to please” when it comes to photos of themselves. Well, I’ve recently done a few commission jobs and I actively sought out these jobs. I asked myself, “Why these jobs and not others?”
Specifically, within the past 90 days I’ve done two sessions involving airplanes and automobiles. How are these different than the commercial shooting gigs that I avoid?
As in the example above, I am not simply “taking pictures” of something. Instead, I am using that “something”, in this case an RV-7 airplane in a hangar, as a canvas to create. The lights, the camera and lenses, the colored gels, the modifiers…. they are my brushes and paints.
I don’t get pleasure out of “taking pictures” or collecting equipment as that is a very passive and completely technical activity and the camera most of the work. I don’t get pleasure from using software, or printing, or stretching canvas. Believe it or not, my pleasure doesn’t even come from travelling to these incredible locations and seeing them in the best light of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy these places and things and am grateful to experience what many people do not. But that’s not what inspires me.
Instead, these places and things inspire me to create. Therein is my pleasure. First, the formation of a vision, and secondly, using all of these tools to see that vision come to completion in the form of a tangible photograph that people take a true pleasure in viewing, owning, and displaying in their own personal space. This is the beginning of every art piece that any artist creates. Inspiration and a vision of “what could be” or “what can I create with this?”. It’s different than simply capturing or replicating what is in front of me. It is about using what is in front of me as a starting point – a blank canvas.
This is why I consider myself first and foremost an artist. If I were to sit down and paint a painting, I would approach it in the same way that I approach photography. I would envision something interesting or a beautiful place, and I imagine it in the best light, and then I paint. Being a photographer-artist is the same creative process.