Every so often you find someone who has a message that resonates with you, shakes you up and encourages you to take your craft to the next level. It can be a little unsettling to “deactivate the cruise control of what you think you know” to realize a dream with new or more daring vigor. Inspiring speakers supplemented with constructive mentorship helps propel you forward. In the past week I was fortunate to attend several forums to meet several amazing speakers who shared their expertise and insights, each with a different key message.
With his candid, no-nonsense Aussie style of direct delivery, David Anthony Williams challenged photographers to make meaningful portraits of the people we love as well as clients. Now based in Toronto, David’s erudite wit and lively program showed his work but also stirred a renewed appreciation for the skill of great painters and photographers in a beautiful homage. The next evening Thom Rouse shared his incredible artistic creative process with humor and encouraged us to form something truly original. His daring, complex creations caught my imagination. Art appreciation is close to my heart so I valued their presentations.
Although the market is changing, commercial success does come from developing a strong style and cohesive body of work based on sound technical skills. At CTPPA’s annual convention this weekend I appreciated the practical lighting workshops offered by Ty & Shannon Fischer and also by Stephanie Zettl. Jeff Lubin and the Fischers shared their personal experiences while building strong studio presence, as did local photographers (Lynn Damon, Paulette Muertes, Art Rich). Clearly pursuing this passion demands prominence, profitability and persistence if we are to remain in business as professional photographers for the long-term. It’s a lot to balance but “no pain no gain” applies to life outside the gym too.
Thanks to the encouragement from Susan Wacht-Goralski and Tina Petta-Pelletier I entered 6 images in the CTPPA Print Competition and they all gained merit ribbons with one “Excellence” but I know in my heart I still need to “up the ante”. Although I have only been in the organization for a year, I received some recognition for my photo "Nature Wins" in the unclassified (Open) category. The prizes are very appealing this year (thanks for the lovely choices) but I need to challenge myself further. Although I am gaining requests for my work, being published and they are even up on billboards, I know there’s so much more to master. This is the time to learn, to strive and to push my boundaries for a bigger breakthroughs.
Perhaps the real challenge is that little speaker within us that plagues us with self-doubt or hesitation. It’s time to turn off the fear and to develop a truly unique sense of style. As they say in the classics “watch this space”.