Why do I go on and on about knowing who you are? I do believe it is the foundation of creating and therefore, if you make a living from it, it becomes the foundation of your business.
Because it does not matter what I think about your work. I don’t like to do portfolio reviews, and I generally don’t do them – because what is the point? People who have asked me to do them before, know about this. I prefer leading people to independence and trust in themselves. Not depending on me and my judgement.
You have to come to a place of knowing who you are and then trusting that person. Trusting your intuition, your words. You have to be willing to mess up and try and risk failure and risk success (failure is never wasted though, so it’s a success in its own right).
I don’t follow a lot of photographers on Social Media, not because I don’t like them, the opposite is the case: I need to protect my creativity. And the ones I do follow it’s because they are about more than their work. They have a message. They inspire with more than just photography.
That’s why I love Peter Lindbergh.
The other day he posted something incredible. This is a little excerpt of what he said during the Florida Photo Festival, that was posted across four different photos and I was like, ‘Did this guy sneak into The Signature Style System?!’ Lol. All of this could have been straight out of my course. In fact, some of those lines are almost identical to the course content. I see you holding your pearls in shock ‘Woman, you’re being pretty bold. Comparing yourself to Peter freaking Lindbergh.’
I am not. The opposite is true. I am nothing like Peter in terms of body of work, experience, skills or knowledge – there is no denying that we have the same approach to what we do. A sense of self and of purpose. What his post showed me was that this information (as any other information in the world) is old. It’s not news. It confirmed to me that people that have been around long time, that have a signature style – all got there for the same reasons: knowing who they are and not compromising their integrity. It’s always the same answer no matter what other formula you are looking for.
Peter is one of those people that trust their own work not because of cockiness but because they just know who they are. That gives him the ability to stay true to who he is and what he believes – He is the OG Signature Boss.
This is not magic. This is not fluff. This is important and this is true. It’s what all the ‘big names’ out there know to be true. That as an artist the only way to do significant work that means something and stands out is when you know who you are.
Now let this sink in:
‘YOU CAN ONLY RELY ON YOU, ONLY ON YOURSELF, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY, YOU HAVE TO STAY OPEN TO CHANGE YOUR MIND TOTALLY AND AT ANY MOMENT. ONLY THAN YOU ARE FREE AND TO BE FREE YOU NEED A STRONG POINT OF VIEW OF YOUR OWN. MOST IMPORTANT IS TO LEARN TO INTEGRATE ALL YOUR BELIEFS AND YOUR WHOLE PERSONALITY IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS. THEN EVERY OF YOUR PHOTOGRAPH REFERS TO YOU AS AN AUTHOR… I COULD NEVER DO A NUDE IN HIGH HEELS, BECAUSE THIS IS SOMETHING I DON’T LIKE IN REAL LIFE EITHER.
YOU CAN ONLY BRING YOUR OWN IDENTITY INTO EVERYTHING YOU DO, WHEN SITTING DOWN WITH A WHITE PIECE OF PAPER THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. USE YOUR VERY OWN THOUGHTS, JUDGMENTS, EXPERIENCES AND FEELINGS, INSTEAD OF THE RIDICULOUS HABIT TO WORK FROM OTHER PEOPLES MATERIAL FOR INSPIRATION (pages or images cut out of magazines)… SIT DOWN AND FORMULATE WHAT YOU WANT TO CONVEY WITH THE NEXT PHOTOGRAPHS YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT. THEN ONE DAY YOU WILL PROBABLY BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER.
I UNDERSTOOD WHAT I’VE SAID ABOUT LOOKING AT YOUR PORTFOLIOS WAS WRONG (BEING A WASTE OF TIME BECAUSE I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE, NOT YOUR PAST). I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT IT WILL BRING US MUCH CLOSER TOGETHER AND THAT THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT, EVEN IF IT TAKES ONE DAY TO DO IT…MY DREAM IS TO SEE YOU GO BACK HOME AND STOP LOOKING AT OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS’ WORK FOR INSPIRATION. INSTEAD YOU SHOULD START BELIEVING IN YOU. ONLY THEN WILL YOUR WORK BE OF ANY INTEREST.
WHEN YOU’VE COME TO THE POINT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOU’LL UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS TO EXIST IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS. EVERYTHING YOU DO WILL BE DONE WITH A REASON – YOUR REASON – AND LITTLE BY LITTLE THE IMAGES BECOME YOURS. THE PEOPLE YOU WORK FOR (MAGAZINES, DESIGNERS OR BRANDS), WILL FEEL THAT YOU’RE CHANGING AND WILL GIVE YOU MORE AND MORE FREEDOM.’