On Keeping Art Personal

Thoughts on Creating Photographs to Satisfy Personal Vision, Accurately

3 min read by ScottH.
Published on . Updated on .

Passing compliments are cheap. I value honest, thoughtful feedback. Fortunately, my family members can deliver opinions in a way that helps me see my photographs from their perspective. They may be blunt and I appreciate that.

After my recent trip to Washington State, it dawned on me that my style is never going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The images that I brought back when placed side by side could hardly suggest they came from the same photographer. Some with stark contrast, others with natural tones. There are photos of very particular compositions and those capturing well-photographed sights, which is OK.

It took me twenty years to become comfortable with the thought that I need to shoot for myself. Feedback, opinions, and appreciation — they are a part of the process that helps me ensure that the work I produce satisfies my own vision. But I don’t strive for a praise.

I better like what I am doing, as more times than not, others won’t.

“Roots” — shot on Arista 100, 4x5 at Wenatchee River, Leavenworth Wa.

“Roots” is a photograph that was a no-brainer when I shot it. Producing the image was more of a challenge. In the end, I achieved exactly what I was looking for. Though some may note the sharp contrast or apparent lack of flow, it brings out my personal vision of a grungy, rigid organic system entrenched in the rough floor of dirt, stones, leaves, and sparse vegetation.

“Swamped Trees” — shot on Arista 100 4x5 at Wenatchee River, Leavenworth Wa.

“Swamped Trees” got a different look and a different post-processing flow. It seems softer, more pleasing to those whom I’ve shown it to. Though I did not change my methods all of a sudden to catch someone else’s eye.

The photograph found me as a patch of a forest bathing in soft, glistening light, reflected off the swamp water, gradually submerging into the murkiness.

“Wenatchee River” — shot on Arista 100 4x5 at Leavenworth Wa.

“Wenatchee River” is a photograph anyone and everyone takes when in Leavenworth.

The wide-flowing river actively interacting with trees and the distant landscape with a touch of human presence. What’s not to like?

I guess I’m also a fan. The image came out in the way I imagined it should, to satisfy my personal desire to capture the moment.

Should others find my work enticing I am more than happy to know. For me, the photography is much more enjoyable when I work on bringing my sole vision to life with little regard to pleasing the others.

The art feels purer without nagging stats, trends, and opinions poised to cloud the imagination and ego with an endless chase for likes, views, and thumbs-ups.