the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

A Pent Up Need to Create

Tipsoo Morning

Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park – not taken in the last two months

In the past two months, I have barely touched my camera. I shot a wedding in July, a few family shots last weekend, and did took a few quick shots while in Cannon Beach at the beginning of August. That’s it. Now wedding and family photos are fine, but they really don’t wet my creative juices like travel or landscape photography does. The time in Cannon Beach was fun, but it really wasn’t a photography trip. However, if I had known at the time that I wouldn’t have a chance to do any serious work later in the month, I would have taken many more images there. But I didn’t, and now I have huge pent-up desire to do some photography.

There are many reasons and obligations as to why I haven’t been out making images, but that is not really the point. The point is I have this craving, this deep-seated need to have the camera in my hand and spend a day creating. It is as if my soul has a hole in it right now.

And while this desire is very deep and is truly uncomfortable, I am actually glad I have it. Why? Because it confirms for me that I am an artist and not just a documentarian (I hold nothing against those who make documentaries as their artistic outlet, but I think you understand what I’m saying). I’m also glad for this need because while I consider myself a professional, it confirms for me that I’m not just in it for the money (not that there’s a lot of that). I am an artist. I have the need to create and the camera is just my paintbrush, the computer screen and photographic paper are my mediums.

These thoughts come not only because my lack of creative photography recently, but also due to a blog post by Dan Baumbach, a very talented photographer. In his blog, Dan questions whether he is an artist. I think many photographers have had these thoughts. I know I have had such doubts in the past.

Perhaps it is easier for others to see the art in a photographer’s work than the photographer themselves. Looking at Dan’s images, it is easy (at least for me) to see he is an artist. In comment I left to his post, I mentioned how I recently gave a short talk on using Lightroom to a group of photographers and someone asked how I was allowed to change the white balance to make the image look different (than what they thought it should look like in the real world). And the answer is that I’m an artist, I’m not trying to replicate the real world, I’m trying to create my own personal vision of it.

Sometimes my vision looks like how others see a scene. Sometimes it doesn’t. It is always amazing to me how several different photographers can photograph the same scene and come up with totally different photographs. That’s because we photographers are artists.

It is said that art is in the eye of the beholder. Excuse my language, but that is bullshit. Art is in the eye of the artist, the creator. When you put that camera to your eye and decide, consciously or not, what to put in the frame and what to leave out. You are making artistic and creative decisions. The same is true for every tweak you make in Lightroom or Photoshop. (See this earlier post on how we, as photographers, make creative decisions in processing images.) You are an artist. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Okay, enough with the ranting. Presently, I just need get out there and feed my craving to create. Now, where did I put that camera?

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14 responses

  1. perspectivethink

    Wonderful piece. What you describe is almost the same way I feel about writing. I love to write- I’m even daring myself to write a short fictional story. You’re right, sometimes it is a bit uncomfortable to experience such a deep passion for what you love doing. I personally don’t feel “art” in writing, at least in my writing, but the last thing I want to do is imitate someone else (there’s always someone wanting to be the next Henry David Thoreau like someone wants to be the next Ansel Adams). You do excellent work. Keep your passion going. Thank you.

    August 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    • Thank you for your comments. If writing is your muse, you should definitely follow it, but your warning about not imitating someone else is very appropriate – this is often a subject raised in photography, where most folks want to get “the shot” of the Delicate Arch, the Taj Mahal, etc.

      August 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

  2. That feeling and desire to create can be overwhelming! At the same time, you can fully deplete yourself. I immersed myself in photography during a 2 month road trip earlier this year to learn, experience and grow as a photographer. You’d think that 2 months of a dream “vacation” would leave you rested and relaxed. I was relaxed but exhausted! I was creatively full. It wasn’t long until my creative appetite came back though and its going strong right now. Enjoy that craving and go shoot! Looking forward to your upcoming images. EE

    August 21, 2013 at 6:52 am

    • Thanks Eric. So true about immersing yourself so much, but what an opportunity you had! Glad your craving came back, and I hope it stays strong for you.

      August 21, 2013 at 8:47 am

      • Thanks, I pace myself now but I’ve been clicking a bunch recently! I still haven’t finished my edits from the road trip either. Guess I’m still immersed! Happy shooting to you and have fun 🙂

        August 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      • I still haven’t finished my edits from my trip to Florida in June and that was only a 4 day trip!

        August 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

  3. I understand fully what you are saying. I, too, love photography and sometimes take my own photography and paint over it…to design something a little different from what I saw through the camera. I have recently started painting abstracts ….loving the colors and how things just happen…making it what I want. I think that is being an artist means many things. There is definitely fulfillment in creativity. Nancy atwww.boyerwrites.wordpress.com

    August 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    • Thanks Nancy. I love making abstracts with my camera, though I doubt I could do one with paints. We all have different artistic talents, which is a very good thing!

      August 21, 2013 at 10:04 pm

  4. Absolutely beautiful! very nice

    August 23, 2013 at 7:26 am

  5. coolphototutorials

    A beautiful photo. I love the lighting and composition. Its great how you have managed to get so much of the shot in focus and the reflections are beautiful.

    August 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    • Thanks. I used a small f-stop on a wide-angle lens that helped with the focus and a split-neutral density filter to help on the exposure (with additional tweaks in Lightroom and Photoshop).

      August 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

  6. Reblogged this on victormiguelvelasquez.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

  7. Pingback: An Evening Shoot | joebeckerphoto

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