Inside our hearts there is a place of fearless curiosity. It’s a place that can bring torment, but also joy and completeness and a feeling of needing to be expressed. This place is full of creativity, inspiration and vision. Every human being has the ability to live from this space in a unique and inspired way. For artists, it is a life’s work to learn to find this place and to listen.
Almost all photography advice you will find is about cameras, lenses, software, composition, lighting, styling, and so on. This is the form of photography, the palette of writing with light. But, what is not as often talked about is how to have something to say. So often artists, particularly photographers, put form ahead of substance. Learning to compose a good frame is far easier than searching your heart to find what you are inspired and intrigued by.
Great photography is as much about the photographer as it is about the subject. If you are uncomfortable and not at ease in a situation, your photos will show that. If you aren’t excited about your subject, your photos will show that. If you don’t connect with you subject, your photos will show that. Thus, great photography is about looking inside and exploring ourselves then turning that exploration a bit outward and exploring ourselves through the world around us.
To run a business and find your vision photographing only paid work is next to impossible. To an extent, paid work is the death of creativity. As soon as you are shooting for a client, expectations arise. We think, “They will want this type of image,” or “I need to make sure to get that…”; that is all well and good, but it makes it darn hard to hear your inner voice of what YOU find inspiring and interesting.
Great artwork, and our struggle to understand what it is to be alive, go hand in hand. When we find ourselves in a rut, we owe it to ourselves as creatives to step out of our comfort zones.
I’ve made a living as a photographer since before college. I first started working at newspapers in 1999 as an intern who pressed film. 18 years later, after 10 years of running a wedding photography business in Seattle, I was feeling more and more like I was going through the motions of photography without really investing in my work or taking chances with unfamiliar subjects or ways of shooting. I had a great network of clients and wedding industry friends who would refer clients to me, but I didn’t feel like I was making images that had not been made before.
My solution was a bit radical. I sold my Canon cameras and switched to Fuji mirrorless. There is a significant learning curve, but it’s an intuitive and streamlined system. The cameras are small and quiet and the image quality is insane. This frees more energy to focus on connecting with people as a person, not as a photographer.
Next, a more drastic endeavor: I moved out of my live / work apartment and gave up my client-meeting and projection room-for a referral based business, this was a big deal!
I still call Seattle my home-base; it’s still where most of my shoots are. Last winter I traveled the southwest by myself in my Sprinter vanV (this is what we now call it because it’s part van and part RV and therefore hard to explain to people. This fall and winter my best friend and love Kathryn and I have been traveling together between shoots in Seattle. She’s a wedding and portrait photographer also! 🙂
We are each other’s favorite subjects, so we have been shooting like crazy! And as we travel we’re working on shooting work that we love! We have been shooting each other, our journey, new clients, new friends and people passing in the wind. We are following that thread of inspiration even though I don’t know where it leads. As we travel we are scheduling shoots everywhere we go that continue to feed this creativity. Most of our clients are still in Seattle, but please reach out about availability anywhere! Seriously! Where should we travel to next?
Along these lines, one thing we are really looking for is community as we travel. It is one of the most important things to us to connect with friends, old and new! Drop us a line just to say “hi!” or to inquire about doing a shoot with us. We’d love to photograph you!
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park Canyonlands National Park Capitol Reef National Park Canyonlands National Park Joshua Tree National Park Joshua Tree National Park Chasing light through Arizona.
Canyonlands National Park Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho The Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake Our bedroom, kitchen and bathroom 😉 The Great Salt LakeKirk Mastin in Westport, WashingtonKirk and Kathryn on the North Shore, Oahu Kathryn in fridged Icicle Creek, Washington Fifth Water Hot Spring, Utah
Fifth Water Hot Spring, Utah The Great Salt LakeThe Continental Divide, New Mexico Canyonlands National Park Sebastian & Sarah from Belgium in Canyonlands National Park Capitol Reef and a group of music producers from Sweden in Joshua Tree NP. Petrified Forest National Park Carl in Joshua Tree National Park Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho Antelope Island, Utah
Carson National Forest Our living room! A few stops along the way. Moab, Utah Chantel in Waikiki Sedona, Arizona Jessie and Kamora in Sedona Far eastern Washington Moab, UtahIdaho Sedona, ArizonaOld wildfire burn in Eastern Oregon
“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things.” ― Dogen