This past Wednesday my university had it’s yearly gallery opening for the Communications Media department’s Visions Exhibition. I love seeing my work printed and hung in a gallery space with my peers. As a photographer, I always love printing my work and holding it in my hands. Almost all of my work is shot digitally, edited, and often shared online. I don’t end up printing my work until I need to for an exhibition. I am also employed as a student gallery curator on campus so I also get to hang all the galleries. During both the hanging and the opening, I was told my work was probably leaning on “the strange” side of the exhibition.
I guess a lot of people couldn’t tell that it was me as the zebra which is sort of what I was going for. I like doing self-portraits and being a subject in my work because I think it adds another touch of the artist’s hand in the photograph. You can tell a painter by his brushstroke but a camera records with a lifelike quality, while there are still skills that have to be learned, a 20 megapixel camera is still going to create the same file size and resolution on day one as day one hundred. When a painter practices his craft it has a much less forgiving end result if he is not skilled. Photography requires skill but the progression can sometimes be subtle. It’s often much harder to tell two photographers apart until they both find a true style whereas painting or drawing is entirely made by the hand of the artist, physically, which becomes much more prominent in the work itself. Having myself as a subject not only makes scheduling a model much easier but it also makes my work hold together a little bit more using one subject throughout each concept. This is how I develop my style, I’m the guinea pig and it’s my journey with photography. It seems fitting to be more than just the man behind the camera and I find that I can do both.
I doubt that any real hardcore artists enjoy showcasing their work as much as they enjoy creating it. I do like hanging my work in a gallery but I think it ultimately just raises the bar for the next thing I create. Once I create an image or a piece of artwork I can enjoy it for a little while, maybe pat myself on the back for a job well done, but then it’s onto the next thing. Once I finish an image, that’s it, it’s done and I start moving again. I don’t need someone to keep telling me that my pictures are good, just let me work, I’ll find the flaws and I’ll make the changes. I like being able to say, “I made this and I did it all by myself.” Even if no one is around to hear me. It took me a while to figure this out but in my first semester of college I wasn’t making any art because of schoolwork and it was horrible. It was my least favorite part of my life.
I think I would find it difficult to call myself an artist if I wasn’t making headway towards something to do with art all the time. For me, I think it’s the challenge of thinking up an image that’s a little bit harder to make than the one before it. I like to bite off a bit more than I can chew and it’s worked out pretty well so far.
Hard work is satisfying.