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find your voice {photographers}

i want to start this post out by introducing a sublimely gifted photographer and her blog.
‘her’ name is deb schwedhelm and her blog is where this post sprouts from.
i came across deb’s photography site a little bit ago and i find myself visiting her quite often.  one visit and, you too, will know why.
images full of emotion, courage, meaning, spirit, calling and beauty.
in this particular post, she actually talks about another photographer that has inspired her and that she considers her mentor.
‘she’ is cheryl jacobs nicolai.  naturally, i had to visit her site.  once there, i knew instantly what deb was talking about.
here, too, art filled with passion, soul, intensity and connections.
see how this works? this is good.  this is one way inspiration is found.  people share and people grow.
deb is sharing cheryl’s words and i will share them here as well as they are filled with truth,
guidance and inspiration for photographers and really all artists.
of course i asked deb is i could share her ‘sharings’ on my blog.  her answer…’of course.’


Style Is a Voice

– Style is a voice, not a prop or an action. If you can buy it, borrow it, download it, or steal it, it is not a style. Don’t look outward for your style; look inward.

– Know your stuff. Luck is a nice thing, but a terrifying thing to rely on. It’s like money; you only have it when you don’t need it.

– Never apologize for your own sense of beauty. Nobody can tell you what you should love. Do what you do brazenly and unapologetically. You cannot build your sense of aesthetics on a consensus.

– Say no. Say it often. It may be difficult, but you owe it to yourself and your clients. Turn down jobs that don’t fit you, say no to overbooking yourself. You are no good to anyone when you’re stressed and anxious.

– Learn to say “I’m a photographer” out loud with a straight face. If you can’t say it and believe it, you can’t expect anyone else to, either.

– You cannot specialize in everything.

– Know your style before you hang out your shingle. If you don’t, your clients will dictate your style to you. That makes you nothing more than a picture taker.

– Accept critique, but don’t apply it blindly. Just because someone said it does not make it so. Critiques are opinions, nothing more. Consider the advice, consider the perspective of the advice giver, consider your style and what you want to convey in your work. Implement only what makes sense to implement. That doesn’t not make you ungrateful, it makes you independent.

– Leave room for yourself to grow and evolve.

– Remember that if your work looks like everyone else’s, there’s no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else.

– Gimmicks and merchandise will come and go, but honest photography is never outdated.

– It’s easier to focus on buying that next piece of equipment than it is to accept that you should be able to create great work with what you’ve got. Buying stuff is a convenient and expensive distraction. Spend money on equipment ONLY when you’ve outgrown your current equipment and you’re being limited by it.

– Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons, and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacence.

– Learn that people photography is about people, not about photography. Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection.

– Never forget why you started taking pictures in the first place. Excellent technique is a great tool, but a terrible end product. The best thing your technique can do is not call attention to itself.

– Never compare your journey with someone else’s. It’s a marathon with no finish line. Someone else may start out faster than you, may seem to progress more quickly than you, but every runner has his own pace. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. You will never “arrive”. No one ever does.

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