Last February, I taught at the Foundation Workshop. It’s a rough workshop with little sleep and lots of emotion- but rough in a good way. The teachers and faculty there are fiercely dedicated to making an experience for the students that is beyond any other workshop I’ve seen out there. There’s an impressive list of staff members, too. I highly recommend the workshop- for the past four years of teaching it I have grown fond of the group that gathers there yearly to teach it and the students we work with.
This year, I was asked to speak. Acht, yikes- me, little me, speak? Oh boy. But, for the first time, I felt like I finally had something to say- something that mattered to me. With help from Amy Deputy, I worked to focus on the message and if there is ever someone who can reach into your soul and pull out your message, it is Amy Deputy.
To figure out what I wanted to say, I asked myself this:
What does it mean to be different? How do I find my unique and creative voice? How do I work on refining my specifc style in my photos?
And then there was clarity. Beautiful, lovely clarity. No better feeling than being clear.
My unique voice is right here inside of me. It is my unique and specific recipe.
All your life experiences and every role you play in your life up until this point plays into who you are as a photographer, how you approach your subjects, how you handle situations and how you view your world.
Where you grew up, who raised you, where you lived, how you handled the teenage years, how your teachers taught you, where you have traveled, what you have seen, where you worked and who you choose to spend time with are all ingredients of your uniqueness. Your own recipe. No one else shares that experience. No one else can take it away from you. You own it.
To drive home the point I am making, do a little exercise for yourself. Write your personal recipe. Here’s mine:
Jennifer Domenick’s Recipe:
3 heaping cups of motherhood
1 cup wife
1 cup business owner/business partner
1 cup friend and daughter
1/2 cup photographer (includes photojournalist, fine art photographer, landscape photographer and fashion photographer)
1/2 cup red wine
dash of NPR
These are your ingredients. The more life experience you have, the more ingredients you have. Be proud of your recipe. It’s yours.
Take a minute to think about your own recipe. What goes into you? What about you is unique? It’s a fun exercise and worth taking about 15 minutes to do.
NEXT: Translating this into your own personal style and voice.