Sunday, August 30, 2009

Personal Relationships: How they affect your photography.

People are constantly entering our lives. Occasionally there are those that make a tremendous impact on our lives, work, careers, our way of thinking, and possibly our ways of seeing and viewing the world around us. When a person can enter your life and give you a new perspective on your photography or open your eyes to something you have been looking at, but have not completely seen, then you have met a person that has truly impacted your photography. Having someone in your life that makes this much of a difference can be the greatest relationship you have outside your image making.

Personal relationships can not be confused with professional relationships and or the relationships with employees or colleagues. Personal relationships are the close ones we have with girlfriends, wives, boyfriends, husbands, family, and the close friends we keep. How do these relationships really affect your photography? Well in a number of ways. Families are always a big fan of your photography. There is that obligation to admire your photography even if they do not understand it. They will always be the ones to say something is nice, even if they don't know why it exists.

Girlfriends, wives, husbands etc fall into a slightly different category. They are the ones that we are the closest with. The people that we discuss our work with the most out side the professionals, employees, and contacts we keep that are connect to our photography. Having the right person that falls into this category is what I am referring to.

Here is my example: This past summer, someone entered my life and made an impact on my photography, the way I view my own images, and made me look inward and challenge a few of my beliefs and some of the ways I had been thinking about my photography. This is the first time any one person had ever made such a difference in my life and my photography. I have made some invaluable contacts that have given me some great resources to further my photography, however, this was not the case this time around. This summer I presented my photographs, a large collection of my images, to this person. It was the first time that I sat down and explained every image to someone that wasn’t a photographer. This challenged me in many ways. I had to clearly explain not only the reasons as to why these photographs existed, but how they were constructed. From composition to what I was seeing, thinking, and feeling when I made them. In the end what really took place was a self critique and concise explanation of my photographs. What was simply amazing was how my explanation made this person understand what they were looking at and was able to understand why these images exist.

Over the course of the next few days, I continued to think about how explaining all my photographs to someone who isnt a photographer and have them understand what I was thinking, seeing, and feeling when I made them, gave this person a total and complete understanding of the images. I started to think about how more photographers should be doing this. Finding someone who is so interested in our photographs and can question their existence, yet at the same time understand visually and intellectually the aesthetics and even appreciate the images, is an exercise we as photographers and artists should be doing more often. The point of this exercise is to be able to clearly defend our photographs and image making and give an inquisitive mind answers to questions they may have formed. If someone is truly interested in what they are seeing, they will question you. It also makes a world of a difference if this particular person you are conversing with, or involved in a personal relationship with, is intellectual and educated. The most questions that will be asked ,would come from someone who understands what they are seeing and can form their own opinions yet interpret the images.

As photographers, sometimes the best way for people to truly get to know us sometimes, is through our images, photographs, and the way we visually interrupt the world around us. Taking the time to understand our photographs, way of seeing, and thinking,  is giving someone insight into who we are as photographers, artists and who we are as a person/people. When a relationship of this caliber exists and these elements fall into the right place, then this personal relationship can and should impact our photographs, work, and how we see things. Like I said, for me this situation forced me to look inwards and challenge what I was already thinking and seeing. This is how a personal relationship can affect the quality of photographs, work, career, and even allow us the see ourselves in a new way.

For the first time, I was able to grow as a photographer and person due to a personal relationship that met all of these qualities. Some times these relationships come to an end, or these people may not exist in our lives any more, but does this mean they are really gone? or do not exist if they aren't physically there? No, because looking inwards and being able to see something that you didn't realize was there, even though you see it every day, means that this person has made an impact on your life and photographs. This immortalizes the person that is able to make this happen. They may be gone or not there at the moment, but they are still there because of the possible changes that took place.

Personal relationships can truly out weight some of the other relationships we may keep. How we choose to allow these people in our lives is up to us. But when someone enters our lives without warning and graciously changes our views, seeing, and thoughts, then this is a person worth keeping in our lives, and some times it isn’t up to us to be able to control this. But in the end it is worth having in our lives.

These two photographs are a prime example of  what viewing something we see every day, in a newer way, really means.



Copy Right: Jeffrey Byrnes

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