How does one become icon? Do you ever sit and ponder the idea?
“ One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol.”
Most of us who call photography a hobby or profession strive to be the best. The desire to have people
like LOVE our work drives us to keep trying harder. This desire can apply to anyone, in any profession but what makes those that have already reached icon status an icon.? Speaking simply about photography, what is it about an icon’s photos that makes the special? What is so great about a photographer who captures a celebrity? Really, here is someone who takes a photo of another person who is use to, maybe even craves, to being in front of a camera. What is so inspiring about them? Do they make you wish you could photograph a celebrity, to live that kind of life style?
What got me thinking about this all is how in some photography forums I belong to it seems everyone is more worried about what the other person is doing rather than what they themselves are doing with their business or images. I see people comment about how so yesterday a certain style of processing is, how their competition is undercutting them, clients not appreciating how much time goes into a session etc. It made me wonder, did Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Andy Warhol, Jill Greenberg etc go thru this same process? Did they worry about what everyone else was doing and then try to do the same thing, just better? I don’t know, surely everyone does to some degree.
Over the past few years, I have seen amazing images produces by enthusiasts and professionals. I have been a culprit of trying some of the latest trend in editing, of feeling excited when my photos made front page of Explore on Flickr, of feeling loved because people comments or favorite my images, blog post, etc. I too dream of what it would be like to one day think maybe I could be an icon… then I slap myself in the face, bring myself back to reality. I don’t take photographs for anyone else, I take them to express a part of me which needs to be released. One day I hope my girls will cherish the memories captured on film.
The meaning in a photo is different for everyone, all I know is there should be meaning behind an image. I’m drawn to photos, whether they’re my style or not, which tell a story. Photos where you can feel the emotion. The emotion is what people remember. These are the images icon’s produce. To often I see, portrait photographers fill the image with architecture, landscaping, urban grunge because it looks cool but what is the meaning of the environment to the person in the image? Sure the person may look cute, dressed in perfect clothes, in a perfect surrounding but is that them? What story does the resulting images tell about the person? Before anyone gets in an uproar, there is nothing wrong with taking a portrait photo with expansive landscapes etc, those are great too, but do people remember them?
These days when thinking about my own body or works, I find myself reflecting on all of these points. The moment I start to get caught up in the hype or losing my creativity I ask myself…what story do I want to tell? A good story can be told even without pictures, the photographers job is to want people to hear the story behind a photo. It’s the wanting to write novels without writing a single work, that is what drives me. So in the mad rush to be the best, in your profession, think about what is your purpose, what drives you. Define your own success and worry less.
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