I’m a full-time photographer, I take photos for a living. It’s my main source of income. Its how I pay the rent, keep the lights on and put food on the table. The problem when you work for money, specifically when you get paid for your photography, is that you are no longer in full control.
My daily stroll through the newly built but already decaying park near my apartment in Hanoi listening to Spotify on a brisk (by SE Asia standards) morning has me in deep thought. We only get this type of weather for a couple months a year here and I absolutely love it. I grew up in New England and this is the temperature I was built for, I truly am a different person. I’m smarter, more motivated, and dare I say a deeper man when I’m able to wear long pants and a sweatshirt.
[Editor’s note: some viewers may find the images in the article disturbing, so please proceed with caution]
Photography has always held a weird space in my head. In my mind, I make things that look neat. I have always held great envy to those who create such complex, emotional narratives to their images. I sit and observe with awe and wonder at the tales that come from them, their reasons for color, pose, and other infinitesimal details. Pixels for me are a means to an end, but it’s still something I can’t help but create. It’s how I tell *a* story, but it’s not how I tell my own.
Having a personal project to work on is a great discipline for every photographer, professional or amateur. We all get stuck at times on what to photograph and can fall into ruts where our creative drive struggles to get any traction. Being committed to a personal photography project will help us develop our vision, creativity, and technical skills.
There is nobody more important to photograph than our loved ones.
1. Why travel to photograph?
Why is it that we always try to photograph the exotic?
For example, it is more interesting to photograph a villager in some African tribe, than to photograph our partner.
It is more interesting to photograph a Parisian couple at a cafe drinking espressos, rather than to photograph our mother or father.
It is more interesting to photograph an epic sunset, rather than photograph our children, our friends, or ourselves.
I feel one of the best ways to stay inspired and motivated with your photography is to focus on a project. To take lots of random photos of anything and everything often leads to a body of work that is cluttered, un-focused, and uninteresting.
In this article I will share some of my personal thoughts on how you can create your own photography project idea.
I want to propose a new school of photography called “personal photography.” Consider this letter as a way for me to work out some ideas, and to share some ideas with you.
Disregard what others do
Let me outline the biggest causes of misery for photographers:
- Feeling that their gear isn’t good enough
- Not having enough followers online
- Not having others appreciate their work
- Not making a living from photography
- Not having enough time to take photos