Posting so much of my work recently has me thinking a lot about my journey as an artist. I wanted to be “a photographer,” but I have ended up realizing that I am really an artist. And being an artist… well, that isn’t as easy as being a photographer. A photographer sees what is and retells it on camera. An artist sees what is and interprets it through a medium. A photographer mirrors reality; an artist looks for ways to explain it. And I am beginning to see that the two don’t always coexist very peacefully. As a photographer, I can make a business plan, but it might not work well because the artist may not yet be ready to be real enough in that plan.
I feel as though it is like creating a lovely gown: first you have to put the pieces for the vision together, and then you do the fitting, and then you sew it, and then you fit it again, then you add the trimmings, and then you put it on the girl for whom it was always meant, and THERE it is, the way you first dreamed it. But it takes time. And you have to be patient with the process, because you can’t just sell the muslin for walking down the aisle.
When I started taking pictures, people were just wowed by “oh you take good pictures!” and they told me I should be paid for it. And I was wowed too, and I agreed. Then a few people started paying me to take pictures. And then, to my surprise, I couldn’t keep shooting the good pictures *I* wanted to take, because clients expected something from me. So I shot through what *I* would expect if I were paying someone to take pictures for me. Which isn’t a bad measure, but my artist side didn’t like that AT ALL, because timing and money and technicalities and production took over and the things I wanted to see and say got a bit lost in the shuffle of doing the work.
So what happens when the work is not its own reward? When “doing the work” is just “doing the work?” I wanted to be a photographer because the work itself rewarded me. It gave me back my life, it gave me back my passion. It let me sing my song.
I know you’ll say that I’m doing good, and I’ll say YES, I AM DOING GOOD, and then I will say that I have never been so discouraged while doing good, because I am sad and it is hard and I have lost my voice. The dress is half-done, and I can see what it might be at the end of the process, but I’m the only one who sees the final vision, the only one who knows the gap between what I am doing and what I want to be doing. There is no one out there who can see that for me, or who can tell me how to get from here to there. And I can’t ask anyone else to believe in the vision before it has been brought to fruition.
The market is cruel, because it encourages the artist to pause in his growth in order to put food on his table. Not everyone has the option of relying on someone else’s support while making what is real to them. I am a little embarrassed that I have that option, but so very grateful that my husband works hard and diligently to care for us when I only get paid enough to help out with groceries and business bills once in a while. I don’t want to take that for granted. This is why I am taking some time in 2015 to be an artist and not just a photographer. I am giving myself permission not to say the same thing over and over again – but to speak about new things with the same voice.
I’ve been posting a lot of work recently (and OH BOY do I have more), because *I* want to see it. Because part of my process requires seeing it again through others’ perspectives. Because I told these stories with my camera and wanted to share them, and they have been locked away for publication or editing or lack of time to share. Because I want to find the threads that connect my work, and the habits I want to break, and the things that hint at where I want to be at the end of all of this.
It’s like a “behind the scenes” event, the story behind the story, and perhaps I am not as far along the road as I thought I was, but I feel so relieved to let go of “being all that.” A business like mine needs to grow organically and honestly, with lots of heart and letting go and holding on and being in love and embracing the lack along with the abundance to see the beauty in the promise until the promise is kept.
Thank you for letting me putter.
Images originally published at Style Me Pretty
Photography: Exquisitrie By Kelly Sauer
Hair & Makeup: Brielle Brenner Of Blue Bird Artistry
Accessories: Carlee Sizemore
Models: Vivian Byrd
Venue: Private Residence
Ribbon: Frou Frou Chic
Set Styling: Carlee Sizemore
Veil: Chaviano Couture
Vintage Rentals: Blue Eyed Yonder
Wedding Gown & Design: Chaviano Couture