Are you utilizing your skills for your own benefit? Are you in your field for your gain? Are you sharing your story or focusing on others?
These are some questions I've been pondering over the last couple of days due to a podcast I recently listened to. The podcast is called "Depth of Field" and is hosted by Matt Brandon, a travel and documentary photographer. The goal of the podcast is to interview other photographers for the benefit of other working photographers (or those who aspire to be a working photographer). The person being interviewed was Esther Havens, a humanitarian photographer, who has traveled the world working for NGOs, non-profits, and other organizations, to share their stories and the impact they're having on the world. She's a passionate person, who does amazing photographic work and someone who genuinely cares about the organizations she works for.
It was a challenging podcast, as it made me truly evaluate what I am doing as a photographer. Am I in this for myself? For my gain? Or am I trying to lift others up and share their stories?
I don't know if I have a complete answer for myself--but I do know that there have been moments when I shot a picture and thought, "Oh! What a great shot to put in my portfolio!" This goes for taking pictures of people and even inanimate objects or scenery.
Like this picture of the splash of ocean water--if I thought immediately how great it would be to post this on my website, I'm not praising God for His creation, but thinking about myself. How short-sighted this is!
I feel slightly ashamed realizing that (and admitting it to you!), but in the creative field, it's a hard reality to fight against. The reality that everyone is trying to be better than others in their field and will do crazy things to stand out and receive a following. I don't think I've done anything crazy, but my heart and mind have sometimes wandered to myself rather than the person I was photographing. This is something I truly want to change in myself and my work.
I think that whatever field you're in, these are good questions to ask. It's good to have a "heart check" and ask yourself if you're trying to gain praise or if you're actually making a difference in the lives you're working with. I want the latter. I want to make a difference in the people I'm photographing and the stories I'm sharing.
So, what's you're drive? What's compelling you to do what you're doing? Is it for yourself or for others? Go think about it and let me know your thoughts!
If you want to listen to the interview, click here.