I was a shy, quiet kid. I got bullied when I was in grade school. I stood up to some of them in fist fights, and nearly always lost. I never liked large, anonymous crowds. The last thing I wanted to do was stand in front of a room full of people, speak to them, and try to convince them that I knew what I was talking about. And yet, I became a teacher.
Now in my mid-30’s, I’m not quite as shy, just mostly quiet. I still live and work among bullies, although they are less self-aware now. I stand up to them mostly with sarcasm. I still don’t like large, anonymous crowds. Thinking that I could do with a career change, I never would have imagined that I would be working towards becoming a full-time portrait photographer.
There are times when I wonder if I’m (sub)consciously making things hard for myself, hence the question — What was I thinking?
I didn’t use to have an answer to this question, but now I do.
There is no single template for what makes a successful photographer. I believe in finding your artistic voice first before you find your audience. I have come to realize that I don’t have to fundamentally change who I am to find some degree of success. I believe I have found my voice, so I am now in search of an audience. I know they’re out there; they just have to see my work.
My work has to reflect me as a person. My self-promotion is awkward and less than shameless. My pictures are quiet and will need some time to grow on you. I will have my fair share of critics, but I know now which ones to listen to. I work best in small groups where I can relate to my subject, so I can tell their story through pictures.
Because I believe that’s what a good portrait should be.