Many years ago when I started pursuing my interest in photography, my goals were fairly simple. I was really interested in two things, creating beautiful photos, and being recognized for taking good photos.
To be more specific I wanted to create single stand alone, iconic images. I wanted to capture single moments that made people say wow, that is cool. For recognition I wanted people to value my work, being a business man I equated that value with money, I wanted people to pay me for my time and value what I created.
I won’t bore you with all the points on the evolutionary scale that have let to the present but it has been a lot longer and slower process than I would like to admit. I’ll be the first to say that I often still find myself wanting external validation.
In talking with my wife the other day, and in reading articles from authors that I value over the last few weeks, I realized that my understanding of what success as a photographer means to me has changed.
For me the single iconic image has fallen from it’s pedestal of honor and been replaced with the ability share a more complete picture of people and places, to be able to portray them with dignity and bring recognition to people who are often overlooked and undervalued. When I am working with humanitarian organizations I strive to listen to the people I am photographing. I want to simply be a method of transmission for their story, to magnify their voice and capture images that communicate their value and worth as fellow human beings.
When I am pursuing my personal travel and street photography projects I try to capture images that reflect a greater story of the place, culture and people I am photographing. I aim to only publish images that are honoring to each individual person and their culture.
Success for me currently is all about understanding, and communicating. Can I be a channel for communication a between people on opposite sides of the world who live in very different realities. Can I help people who have never left their home country feel a connection to, and respect for people they will never meet and a culture they don’t understand?
While I still struggle with validation at times I am finding more and more satisfaction from being able to move aside and really bring the people I work with to center stage. If people are able to feel connected to, and see the value of, the people I am photographing or making a film about then I have succeeded, even if and maybe especially if people never know or care who took the photos.