If you are anything like me, the first years of your photography career live in a dark dark place on an external hard-drive in a drawer you never open. I do not have the heart to delete them, no matter how much I hate them. In fact I need them. Not because I plan on submitting them to a gallery but the old images remind me where I began and the journey I have taken along the way. Because my goodness gracious photography is a process. You do not wake up one day and become a better photographer than who you were yesterday. You try, you fail, you push and you create from the heart. So many people are born artists but along the way they give up or never try to begin with.
I was sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Winchester with a lovely little group, going through old photos that have been long hidden on Facebook. During our conversation Emy nudge me to not hide on them but to show them to other people, as an encouragement for people to see. I’m forever cursed with a dissatisfaction when it comes to anything I make, I love my images and I’m definitely not in the corner crying about how I am a horrible photographer. But I feel like I can always do better and make better images than what I have sitting in front of me. I like to pretend nothing exists before the year 2014. So the horror of returning to the younger years was more than embarrassing. But in the lightness of growing and telling you things will get better I’ve broke open the old hard-drive to show you where I started this journey of mine.
To start off I never was super into photographing people, nature was my thing (I guess it still is) and I pretty much attacked every flower and sunset I could. I am already embarrassed but I will spare you the hundreds of images of frogs, birds and others that I was convinced could get me into National geographic. This image above was back in 2008/2009 believe it or not I had a unnatural love for spot color. It is funny how when you are young nothing holds you back from creating. You are not worried, you are not comparing yourself- you are just making. Why? Because it is fun and you love to do it. I have done my best to hold onto that part of me.
My sister had to suffer the most of this camera shenanigans, she was my first guinea pig when it came to all things people. So in the heap of all of these hard to look at photos, she’s center stage. It is funny to see how the both of us have grown together, how our pictures have changed. She isn’t so willing to get up at 8am on a snow day any longer but she definitely has changed in her role. I remember a particular shoot where I took her outside with a green scarf and camera just because I wanted to. Then I began to realize I could get more creative (like shoving her in trunks) and that is where I began to start going into more ‘creative’ ideas I guess you could say. OK. HERE WE GO. Throwback to all the years between 2006-2010.
I know all of that was pretty overwhelming, that editing got me visually carsick uploading these. I think I thought MORE was better, I had blinders on when it came to editing. And just to bring you back to current day here are a few images of my recent work of 2015. To me it is like night and day- my technical skills, lighting, editing, concepts all have matured. It wasn’t because I got a brand new expensive camera, it wasn’t because I woke up one day realizing that maybe a persons skin shouldn’t be edited to the point of being over exposed. It was a gradual thing, little by little understanding what I liked and what I did not like.
I’m not going to throw my old self under the bus entirely, there were images (a tiny little bitty bit) that weren’t totally awful. Images I look back on and can hear the current me screaming YES JESSICA RUN. I have always been drawn to certain things and it is funny to see that appear even 7+ years later.
It’s time for an image throwdown
I mean come on….lets talk about mermaids for a second. 2010 VS 2014.
How about self portrait? 2010 VS 2015.
I have hundreds more, believe me. What baffles me the most is how supportive people were to me when I was younger. I obviously stunk on ice but everyone around me assured me that I had something special and to push forward with it. Family, friends, teachers and other photographers. Even having to shift through these images on Facebook, the comments were all but encouraging and kind. I think that is the point of this entire ordeal and blog post. The power of encouragement is a underestimated. I would have quit a long time ago if it weren’t for the people around me. It makes me wonder how many great artists there are in the world who will never be artists. Be an encouragement to others and yourself. Keep working, keep creating and things will get better