Taking ownership of who you truly are is something they don’t really teach you in art school. Not that I went to art school, but I’ve talked with many instructors, students and graduates about this and so far they all agree. I love art, I love artistic photography. I was looking at a photographer’s work yesterday and I just loved the artistry in his work. I was inspired and I was ready to start an entirely new project based on this inspiration and a few hours later it hit me. There is no way in the world I can shoot like this guy.
Yes, I could imitate his style, I could copy what he has already done but the mood and feeling would be so incredibly different. My approach with my subjects is so different from his, I can tell just by looking at the images. Plus my subject matter was going to be slightly different, which actually changes everything.
This is what I mean by taking ownership of who you truly are. Just because I can imitate someone does not mean that I am the artist they are. I may never become a well-known portrait artist, and I’m okay with that. I am not high-brow nor am I elitist. I am seriously just an average guy with some cool ideas and I have figured out how to get those ideas into a print via my camera. I fully own who and what I am.
For years I have said to people “I take nothing seriously, even if I say to you ‘no, I’m serious’ I’m probably not.” I like taking risks, having fun and shooting images which are really just a make-believe reality. I love pretty pictures, I love glamour, I love fashion, I love working with models and non-models. The simple fact is that I get to create pretty pictures of wonderful people.
I am not a Jock Sturges, I am not a Helmut Newton, I am not Cindy Sherman. I am just The Average Jim and I am so fucking okay with that! I’m more than just okay with that, I embrace it! I love shooting what I shoot. There are no rules to my work, I shoot whatever I come up with in this bag of mixed nuts I call a brain. I fully own who and what I am. This is what makes me an artist, not always the work I create. Because, quite frankly, some of my work is just eye candy. But it is eye candy that was super fun to create! And life is about having fun and doing what you love to do. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!
Want to get ahead in this world? If you want happiness I highly recommend just owning who you are. The cool part is that you can grow and change over time. If you fall into the rut of trying to be like everyone else you may never figure out who you really are and you will spend all of your efforts trying to please others rather than just being happy with who you are. You should be happy with who you are, plus, if you can’t be true to yourself you really cannot be true to your art.
A while back I asked some friends to help describe my work. One of them (a fellow photographer) described my work as “Americana Glam” and that is where I got this whole idea from. My work is very American, it is very glamour at times, we call that fashion here on the west coast. And I have a strong sense of nostalgia for everything USA. Americana Glam totally fits. I dig what I do, call it what you will, I will enjoy it all just the same because this is who I am.