Perhaps you’re like I was one week prior to the writing this – a West Coast native who had only gone as far as making assumptions about one of the largest cities in the Western Hemisphere – New York City. I’m back in the Arizona desert where I call home after attending PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2018 and I brought back an importantly refreshed outlook on myself and my career in photography.
You may recall my previously published article where I inquired to the Fstoppers community about the pro’s and con’s of Social Media as it relates to photography. I was invited to PDN PhotoPlus 2018 to be a part of a keynote panel discussion called “Social Media Is Ruining Photography.” While I could use this time to go on about the vigorous discussion that took place among the well qualified panelist, Allen Murabayashi (PhotoShelter), Teresa Letorney (Visura), Rhynna Santos (Everyday Bronx), and myself, as well as the many obvious and well documented benefits of networking at conventions such as PhotoPlus, instead I’m going to detour for a moment and talk about a refreshed outlook I was able to gain while I was there.
Back home in the Arizona desert dissecting my memories and moments experienced in the Manhattan area of New York, I can’t help but feel like I learned a lot about myself as an individual as well as a photographer during the three short days I was there. It’s been said that sometimes one must look or think outside of the box in order to gain a different perspective on any given situation. The thing is, prior to this trip I hadn’t quite realized I was in a box. It took flying over 2200 miles from where I call home and surrounding myself with people who had a completely different outlook on the world and the photo industry to come to grips with the fact that I had securely placed myself inside of a metaphorical box without even realizing it.
Discussions ensued throughout the convention with industry professionals more interested in my personal work – the work I do not market or very rarely share with anyone and hold close to my heart (perhaps due to fear of judgment) – than they were in the work I grind out on a daily basis (the aforementioned box) - portraiture and commercial photography. After sensing the same genuine enthusiasm from several individuals whom I respect, I had to ask myself why I wasn’t putting more of my energy and confidence into my personal work – the work I enjoy most and that others apparently do too.
“There are THOUSANDS of portrait and commercial photographers here right now. You might be the only photographer here with the type of access you have. You should focus on that.”
I haven’t quite digested everything I experienced while in New York City yet, but I can tell that it’s going to shape the next several years of my photography career – and I feel excited about that.
Have you ever been somewhere that made you see yourself in different light or that strongly influenced your photography? Share your experience in the comments below.