A photo session or event is like a blank canvas for me. The brushes and knives I have to work with are combined with the pallet of colors I’m given. All of these come together at one time so that I can (with my camera) paint a picture of the people in my photos, their emotions, their personality, and most important, their story. The delicate balance of everything collected brings about an inspiration to complete the master work.
It is worth mentioning that not all works of art are the same. Each one is unique in its given moments and interactions of human characters all lending to the final piece. This is something I’ve had to accept with the weddings I photograph and the clients I serve. When I sit and wonder about the differences between events I must realize that people are different, so their involvement with me will change, thus altering the chemistry. All the dynamics that go into an awesome experience aren’t always present in every setting.
When we visit a gallery and see the framed art on the walls we develop opinions on the displays. This happened to me recently when I caught myself negatively critiquing several pieces and praising a few others, only to find it was all the same artist. Even Beethoven wrote some pretty awful scores among his many wondrous melodies.
As an artist I have countless ups and downs. Some days I feel great about what I’ve accomplished and other days I imagine I’m a total failure. I’m in no way pining for compliments to lift me up, but my emotions are real and a direct result of my inspiration or lack of it. I could walk into an event with the highest of motivations and be quickly torn down by a negative moment of ingratitude by a client. Does this mean I perform any less than I should? It all depends how free I am to follow through with my obligations. While it is a rare occurrence, it concerns me enough to think about it.
Even if everything is going swell and I’m able to move along with an on-time schedule, some weddings and sessions will be more inspiring than others, and I can’t help that. There have been so many brides I can recall who have had amazing décor, stunning flowers, and the coolest wedding party ever – and that just sparks unique creativity in a heartbeat. Where once there was only basic material now I’m running for new shot ideas, I’m grabbing props to build the scene, I’m getting excited about the outcome, and then I’m seeing a new work of art I’ve never captured before – it feels amazing.
I suppose it all comes down to one point – that many artists like myself thrive in the moments surrounded by people who inspire them by way of personality and purpose. Without that all I am is a cookie-cutter photographer shooting the same photos over and over, albeit some really tasty cookies! I religiously deliver the shots of the rings, bouquet, the first kiss, and anything else I can find to make beautiful, but when someone asks why an event doesn’t stand up against others, the answer doesn’t always lie in how I lacked the ability, but what tools I was given to paint that canvas.
– Mark Alison