Every few months I find myself reflecting on my work and career, about where I want it to go and how I want to position myself as a photographer. When I'm doing “work” photography I find that I'm really one among thousands of photographers. So lately I’ve been pondering things like “what do I really care about?” that I can show off through photography that other photographers don't, or can't. What do I have that other's don't?
Artists of all kinds, not just photographers, reach a point where we can choose to stagnate and continue with the work we are doing, or start taking strides to really stand out with work we love. For me, I’m not going stop doing my normal fashion and portrait work but I always try to make time for work I'm really passionate about.
I’ve always been attracted to creativity beyond anything else. Photographing album covers or collaborating with designers has always been a rush I don’t get when I just shoot models. The collective miasma of ideas that can become a concept and then you work with it and put it through your lens can just be a magical experience. Mixing that love of creativity with me being a queer man and enveloping myself within that culture; I’ve grown to love photographing drag queens.
I’ve been photographing drag queens for a while now, like the above photo of Toronto queen Juice Boxx, and the past year or so it has become an important part of my photography and career. I’ve been realizing that, most importantly, it’s something that I love to photograph and, as a bonus, it’s something that not a lot of other photographers are doing and it is really beginning to make my work stand out. I'm developing a signature voice that people are slowly beginning to seek me out for, and there are few higher compliments in my opinion.
Find work you love, the things you are passionate about, so you can find your voice as a photographer. We are at a point in the world where just being a good photographer is not enough. Hell, even being a great one won’t be enough, you have to show that you have something to really say with your photographs. That is something that goes beyond having a “personal style.” It’s something I’m struggling with but am really having breakthroughs about, and it is something I want to share with you.
Online we all see posts about “finding your style” (which you can do by buying their Lightroom presets!), but I feel that something more important than, and something that should predate, your “style,” is finding something that you care about. Something you can do that others can’t. Find a way to stand out. Yes, finding your style is important, but it should come naturally through things you enjoy, not something you seek out early on.