Reaching Past Low Hanging Fruit
I’ve been reading a lot lately about photography projects and bodies of work, which is an entirely different approach than looking for that random “perfect” picture. That one great image is likely of the prettiest, most obvious subject- the low hanging fruit; the easy one, the one that everyone would grab if they were on the same path, down the same street, or the same mountain trail. This is when most novices proclaim, “This photography thing is easy!” They may say this while looking at you with bewilderment that you haven’t produced a plethora of books, been in gallery shows…after all, it’s just point and shoot.
The low hanging fruit gets you experience, helps you find your style, and allows you to learn technique. You really aren’t thinking of a grand project or a larger theme when you are starting out, you are experimenting with workflow, downloading, backing up, importing, exporting, editing, re-touching and finally printing. Notice I didn’t even mention the hours dedicated to learning to process your work in some type of digital darkroom, or even more time if you’re developing film in a real darkroom. All of this learning takes time. Who really has the heart and patience to work on a serious project while there is so much distraction just learning photography?
Eventually the technical aspects become second nature, and you will get into a comfortable flow that will allow you to produce work that is truly yours. You will define yourself as an artist. For me, its taken ten years (and I’m still not done). Nope, I don’t think I’ve learned it all, or done it all. There is a myriad of things I still have no clue about, but I think I have a solid foundation. There is a time when a photographer should look past the low hanging fruit and make more sophisticated work. Don’t let the word sophisticated throw you. It doesn’t mean snooty or uppety. It means work that means something not only to you, but others as well. It is subject matter that is beyond the shallow, obvious, trendy, and the repeatedly explored. It’s time to pick from a little higher on the tree. Yes, it’s more difficult and you’ll have to stretch your thought, creative, and visionary processes beyond what you’re used to.
It is time to stop thinking/taking only the easy, “one hit” single pictures, and think about working on a body of work. A project that is based on an idea, a theme, to say something photographically, and to have a real reason to photograph. A work that is cohesive in its entirety. Something from your heart and soul.
Let me know what you think in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!
It is easy to start off as a photographer, photographing what you think you are supposed to photograph rather than what you are truly internally inspired to photograph.
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