Art, With a Dash of Salt
Art can be such an up and down process for some people. For now, I’m definitely one of them. Enter photography. Extremely oversaturated market, stiff competition from extremely talented people, rough environmental circumstances, high initial and continuing investments, evolving needs of clients, marketing strategies, and in my case, a hefty dose of impostor syndrome. The list goes on and on. It all sounds like downsides, but the ability to release art into the world, like little pieces of my thoughts just sitting out there, makes all of it worth it.
Let’s talk impostor syndrome, get it out of the way because the rest of this week’s piece has a lot to do with it. I am a classic overthinker. Sometimes to a fault, as in, overthinking a situation leading to a good chunk of time to self doubt, but also in the less stressful context of just preparing for every eventuality; and seriously, I showed up two hours early to my last Seawolves game with a full change of clothes plus rain gear and extra shoes. Looked more like I was leaving for a three day vacation. Spare everythings, including a third camera body I keep holding onto just in case. Anyway, impostor syndrome is best described as doubting one’s accomplishments and having an internalized fear of being a fraud. Now, I’m happy with where am at and what I’ve done, and I’ve done a ton to be extremely proud of. There’s these moments though. These little things that come up that range from ‘wow that photo (that I took) looks professional!’ (queue husband reminding me that it It just so happens I am a professional) to me combing through an album that I’ve already sent out repeatedly until I decided I’m actually happy with it. I like to think of the latter as part of my artistic process, but there is certainly a deeper need to try to look at things from outside eyes. There’s always moments of extreme doubt, those I don’t think will go away. But there are also moments of extreme validation and satisfaction. I joke often that I actually have zero talent; but rather my gear does most of the work for me. I like to think that everyone experiences such emotions, and truth be told the longer I do this the more confident I become.
The sports editing process (at least how I’ve experienced it thus far) is not a complicated process. Import, sort, cull, adjust, crop, straighten, (straighten your photos, people, I cannot emphasize this enough), export. Boom. Done. Granted, for my average game this is anywhere from a 4-8 hour process, sometimes more. My largest limitation is seriously; lighting. The difference between a "meh" photo and a great one is how something is lit, whether it be environmental, you know, the big ball of burning gas in the sky, or artificial/studio lighting. I see a lot of brilliant photos, and I tell myself that the biggest difference between me and them, is lighting, one of the many things I have yet to master. I love my city, I love the weather; but in my big sports time of year I need the time to just move along so the sun goes down later in Seattle. Also, I can’t help but think that in order for me to really shoot a good rugby game, I’m going to need some mud. Anyone have any mud? I need some dudes rolling around in mud please. Not sure I’d get away with throwing mud balls at Seawolves players during the run of play.
An Editing Session: Stay the whole time; theres cats involved.
Following other photographers is so key in visualizing what my own goals are. Sometimes it makes me struggle to really settle in a niche; because there’s just so much out there to really experience. And honestly, it’s the photography that has made me a sports fan, not the other way around. For example, I follow Juventus almost religiously because their game day photos are just illuminatingly amazing. From the amazing stadium lights to the smooth detail in their faces, I wonder to myself where I need to do to achieve that look in my photos, and don’t say Turin, you know what I mean. Another photographer who works for Red Bull, well, I pretty much just fall all over myself whenever he posts a new thing. It’s really exciting to watch. Whatever your field is, whatever your hobby or passion, even if it hurts to look at others, go find them because it’s those people who really make us great.
Asking for help is such a hard thing for a lot of people, off of principle I never give advice to people when they don’t ask for it; because at times that situation can come off as condescending. In fact I really appreciate those tight-lipped people who just want to get on with their work, because it helps us both focus on the task at hand. Occasionally, I still get unsolicited and quite frankly unwelcome advice. I don’t want to believe it’s because I am of a relatively small stature, female, and sort of young looking. On one occasion I had someone explain to me how to take a starting eleven photo; ‘make sure you don’t get your own shadow in the photo’ and ‘make two rows, it looks nicer that way.’ With a very ‘no shit, Sherlock’ expression on my face I then proceeded to ask this gentleman if he gave this advice to the other photographers on the field as well and he left with a quick, mumbled, ‘oh you know what you’re doing.’ This sounds ranty, mean and sarcastic but; thank you for that vote of confidence, mystery soccer official man. Now let me do my job. I ended up taking some extremely memorable photos that game.
These moments of doubt will continue on forever. But we have to look ahead to the future and see where its going. It is so important for me personally to keep checking things off of my list for the experience, and to continue on with shoot after shoot after shoot in hopes of one day truly feeling as if I’ve mastered things. Every game is a test for me for improvement from the last one, every couple, every kiddo that meets me and my camera is an opportunity for me to look back and say hey, I’ve gotten so much better, which in my head, is a huge win.