On being a Photographer…..
What do you want to be when you grow up? And other big questions on life…
Social media discussions can take on a life of their own can’t they? Especially when they get you thinking about the BIG questions, as a particular discussion thread has done recently………by that I mean (in photography terms at least) how do we as photographers want to be viewed by others (peers, clients and couples) and who do we aspire to be? So, here goes with a few thoughts.
I say tomato you say tom’A’to……
We are all different that’s a given. Some people aspire to be successful purely in the financial sense, to make money and move on, adapting their style or product regularly to suit a current trend. Some are less concerned by financial success and more by creative success, perhaps gauged by the amount of awards won or by peer recognition from within the industry that they are part of. Then of course we have that rare breed of people who are critically acclaimed, creatively and financially successful.
All of this made me wonder where I ‘fit in’ as a wedding photographer? For me it’s about believing in what I do, continually striving to inspire and be inspired creatively and to treat people as I would like to be treated, with kindness and understanding, always respectful and importantly being nice, perhaps an overused adjective but in my book being nice goes a long way…..
Being inspired or aspiring to be……
Is there a difference between aspire and inspire? Yes.
When we are aspiring we direct our hopes, our ambitions toward achieving something. We may aspire to be like someone or aspire to be the best that we can be.
When we are inspired we are filled with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
You could say that I aspire to be the best photographer that I can be and that my passion for photography and seeing other great photographers work, inspired me to turn professional.
I believe people often get these two terms confused, believing that aspiring to be like someone is to be inspired by someone. Perhaps one person or thing can bring about both emotions? I don’t know….maybe.
Personally, If I am inspired by great art or great philosophy I don’t seek to emulate that persons style; I consider how it affects me and what it is that may momentarily take my breath away or stir within me some emotion that is new or even long forgotten– is it the light, is it the processing, is it the bravery and skill of the artist. What can I take if you like, from them, which will inspire me to explore new ways of working, to continue to evolve as a photographer?
Who or what inspires me and where do I source my inspiration from?
As well as the work of artists as diverse as Aleksander Rodchenko (constructivism), Pierre Bonnard (French painter whose work with colour and light is fascinating), and of course Leonardo Da Vinci, there are a few notable historical and contemporary photographers who have inspired me and here I explain why and how they have influenced my style.
William Klein, a master of street photography, the energy in his work leaps out at you from the image and his painted contact sheets are incredible. His work inspires me to explore different genres of photography and to not be afraid to be different.
Eve Arnold captured Marilyn Monroe as no other photographer has done, capturing that unique combination of vulnerability and ‘showbiz’ that Monroe possessed. To be able to capture someone at their most vulnerable (in the sense of allowing someone to get so close to her) looking so beautiful and radiant is an incredible skill that inspires within me the drive to explore how I can capture brides at their most relaxed and beautiful.
Sebastiao Salgado, his social commentary is unmatched; His black and white photography unmatched; he is a true genius that no one comes close to at this current time. Him images provoke deep thought on the fragile state of our world; and his images can make you weep for the future of this earth or laugh out loud at the joy that can be experienced on this same earth. He reminds me that we have a responsibility as photographers to capture the truth, to remember that behind every image is a person with a story to tell.
Cecil Beaton, legendary fashion portrait photographer of the 20th century. Few match him in his ability to capture fashion portraits. I don’t do formal portraits that often but his work is my reference for elegance and timeless glamour.
Be inspired…..Be you.
So does it pay to be your ‘own person’?
I think the thing is that sometimes people think that some of the ‘celebrity status’ of those we admire may rub off on them if they aspire to be like them, but look at any A list celebrity or successful person and they are unique; they have usually followed their own path, sometimes in the face of adversity or criticism.
To be fair to anyone aspiring to be a photographer, seeking success in this industry can be a tough path to follow. I remember one respected photographer who criticised the use of flare in my images during a workshop. A little bit of originality and creativity temporarily left me as I tried to conform to doing things a different way, but I laughed out loud when this particular person did the same type of image some time later! It taught me a valuable lesson that I’m not happy or at my creative best conforming to a trend or to what someone else tells me should be my style. It’s better to innovate than follow.
I am me. Quiet but sometimes extrovert, I prefer to observe than be the observed. Perfect for documentary wedding photography!
I’m happy when I am alone, but love the company of my wife, my dog and close friends. I don’t crave attention; I am not hugely competitive with others but I do constantly review and analyse my work to see what I could or would do different or better.
I do my own thing; my passion is about being true to myself to give the best to my couples.
There is of course always an angst that what I create may not be ‘on trend, but trends are just that, trends! They come and go.
Yes, I have a business to run that I work hard at to be successful but I would always rather lead than follow. I am inspired by others but I am always me.
Hi, I'm Kevin, a professional wedding photographer based in Cambridge, now with a second base in Cornwall! I love working across the UK, Europe (especially Italy) and beyond. When I'm not working you’ll find me running across the countryside or walking on the beach with my chocolate Labrador recharging for the next fantastic adventure!
t: 0370 626 5200
m: 0796 303 3266