just like a master chef who likes to experiment and try out new ingredients while cooking, or a painter who colors his canvas to feed his soul, a photographer should be shooting for themself on a regular basis. a few friends and i have decided to challenge ourselves for the month of november by shooting a month straight. it revealed a thing or two for me; but what was more important : i learned more about myself than about my camera.
it took me about three years to finally find my true voice in photography. in the beginning, i shot everything you can imagine. from a glass of milk that was sitting on the dining table to my yellow coat that was draping on the back of my chair; from my little girl wearing her first tutu to my oldest climbing a tree for the first time. i shot from and at every corner of my house. i even shot my christmas tree about 250 times one year and my kids playing in their room 500 more times. i also spent money on props, bought a quilt, and took a couch from a neighbor’s trash pile to do a themed shoot. i was so proud of myself for being able to pull something off like that. but way down deep, i knew i shot the best when i notice a story while it was taking place and when it was completely unplanned.
which was why i have given up traditional portrait photography. there are people out there who do it well. i know i’m not one of them; the thought of setting a scene up and trying to figure out how to pose people makes me cringe. not because i don’t value them, but because i’m not wired that way. it’s like asking a lefty to try writing with her right hand.
even so, there were times while shooting a story, i would unintentionally set up a scene and asked my subjects to act a certain way. but afterwards i would always ended up hating these very images. because they weren’t genuine. but at the time, being in control felt safe. safe for the public approval, safe for the clients’ approval, safe for my own sake.
for this reason, i wanted to start a project and my goal was to push back all of my natural instincts. i wanted to learn how to wait for a story to happen instead of creating that story. let.me.tell.you.something.
it was hard.
you see, i didn’t realize how controlling at times i could be when it came to shooting a genuine story. for the month of november, forcing myself to actually sit there and wait was my biggest challenge. i failed many times. because it just felt better when you knew what kind of shots you would be getting at the end of the day. and because the unknown was scary. not knowing whether or not i would get a genuine story put me in a bad position. i felt the need to set something up at times.
but alas, i survived. the result came in the following images. each day i was learning the right time to pull out my camera because i knew there would be genuine stories happening at that time of day. each day was a fight but a good challenge. after 30 days, i am finally beginning to get better and to let go of my need to control; but like i said, it’s just the beginning. i still have a long way to go, and i will continue on this journey.
What is important to my work is the individual picture. I photograph stories on assignment, and of course they have to be put together coherently. But what matters most is that each picture stands on its own, with its own place and feeling.~steve mccury
and that is what i pray to achieve one day.
november 1-november 30, in that order:
now i invite you to see candace rock|huntington beach photographer‘s november project.