I’ve been having a slight existential crisis about my photography lately. Specifically, I’ve been wondering what my artistic voice or style is.
According to this great article on 99U.com, there are four phases of developing your creative voice, and I feel like I’m somewhere between Phase 1 and Phase 2 right now. I’m still trying to learn what I can about my craft, and still fiddling around with my camera to find the best ways to capture on “film” what I see in my mind’s eye.
And then, there’s what happens when I fiddle around in Photoshop with the pictures I’ve taken . . .
Most times, I simply enhance the color or saturation of my photos, or remove an unphotogenic piece of the overall picture. But every once in a while I get a bit of whimsy in my craw and create something that seems a departure from my other photos.
For example, during my first foray into the Alameda On Camera (AOC) exhibit at the Frank Better Center for the Arts, I took the black and white image of an old set of train tracks, and mirrored the image once, then again. The potholes in the pavement–when mirrored against each other–seemed to me to look like a Rorschach Test. So, Railroad Rorschach became the title. It’s one of my favorite pieces, but has gotten very little love.
Then, the following year of AOC, I came up with two fanciful pieces. I’d drawn a housing subdivision as my section that year, and all I could see were the columns, columns, columns of these cookie-cutter houses. I’m not sure why, but that led me to think about M.C. Escher’s Belvedere. So, being a HUGE Escher fan, I took on the daunting task of turning all the columns I saw (as well as other things I’d taken pictures of that weekend) into this amazing piece of visual trickery. Ode to Escher didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted (though you can definitely see the resemblance), and it wasn’t too well received.
That same year, I also happened to take lots of pictures of the lawn animals that adorned the lawns in my section. For some reason the song Teddy Bear Picnic came to mind and I wondered what it would look like if all of the lawn ornaments got to take a little break from their regular positions, and enjoy a day out at a local park (which was in the same section). This wound up being a diptych, titled Gnome Garden Party. At the exhibit’s opening night I heard lots of people say they thought it was a cute idea, which felt good.
Last year, I saw two rocket-shaped structures sitting outside a party store warehouse and thought how funny it would be if someone were to try to sell the rockets, but with Some Assembly Required. And this year, I saw a cool lawn ornament with a globe and placed her out in the galaxy somewhere. Mother Earth didn’t even make the cut of being added to the exhibit, but I’ve since heard some people say they like it very much.
The lack of love for these whimsical images doesn’t stop me from doing them, but I wonder how commercially viable they’d be if I were to put them on the website and try to sell them. And should I even try to add them to the site, since they seem a departure from my other photography?
Another case in point is a newly edited piece that I really like, but am not sure whether or not to add it to the site. It’s not as whimsical as some of the other pieces discussed here, but if I were to add Spiral Silhouette to the website, would it go in the Stairs gallery, or in Miscellaneous?
Meanwhile, I’m continuing to develop my own creative voice. And right now, that voice seems to truly reflect who I am: someone who likes looking at things from unusual angles and loves to see light play . . . but who also has a playful sense of humor from time to time.