Do you want your photography to outstand the billions of pics that are out there on the web? I do.
Not because of a narcissistic needing, but because I want to reach and connect with most people possible, to share as much as I can. I am convinced that the more you give, the more you get.
If we have this goal in common, I want to share with you an insight I had in these days of intense Instagram activity: you need to commit in a project.
The days of McCurry’s “Afghan Girl” portrait are over. No matter who you are. If you are the new Henry Cartier-Bresson and I am the new Robert Capa, forget about us shooting one single photo able to rock the scene. It’s going to be a useless effort.
Go out and try to shot the most beautiful photograph in the world. Done? No? Ok, Let’s figure out that you did it. You have just shot a masterpiece. A super photo.
Now suppose that is something outstanding, let’s say, for example, a picture that could easily win the World Press Photo Contest or at least get on the podium. Got it? Well, if you think you arrived at your photographic Eldorado, you’re definitely wrong. Let me ask you a question: can you remember (without googling it) who won the 2013 edition of World Press Photo? I mean, can you remember the name of the winner? And what about the name of the second-best? Nope.
Nowadays, almost no one remembers the name of a great single-image photographer.
Your single masterpiece is going to melt in the boiling ocean of the neverending, cyclopic daily production of photographies. Grab your phone. Go on Instagram, hashtag “street photography”. Look, 63.8 million images. Now try to refresh the page of the most recent posts: almost 10 images per second are uploaded. Your photo will receive 1, 10, 100, 1000 likes. And it’s going to disappear forever. No matter how many photos as a solo image you’ll shoot: each of them, as a single photo, will fall in the deep and dark well of oblivion.
A photographic project can be your ticket to photographic self-realization.
But when you’re following a project, it’s a whole different story. When you commit yourself on a project, everything gains meaning and purpose. Images become like people meeting and growing up with a common and clear background. Photographies behave like persons. First, it will be two pictures together as a couple. Then they’ll become a small family of pictures. Then they’ll become a clan of images, sharing the same vision. And so on, they’ll grow in a small village of people; then a metropolis, then a nation.
And when you are the father, the founder, the owner of a nation of photographies, all of them with your signature, with your vision, with your blueprint, with your passion and feeling…then you’ll be able to really express yourself through the photography medium.
Photographies are just like words on a person’s mouth: saying a word correctly, but being unable to pronounce a whole (even short) complete and coherent sentence is not mastering the language, I mean…it’s not even speaking a language!
But when you can put together different words (photographies) in order to get a complete sentence (project), then you’re able even to tell a story. And that’s where I am aiming to arrive, my friend: being able to tell a whole story through photography.
Committing to a project lift you up from the mass and will makes you a different photographer. It’s true, no one remembers the winner of the last World Press Photo, but -for example- everyone remembers Sebastiao Salgado (if you don’t know who Sebastiao Salgado is, throw your camera in the garbage. Period). And believe me: nobody would have ever remembered Salgado if he’d only shot a single (no matter how beautiful) picture of a group of Indios.
Salgado is one of the best examples of great photographer self-assigning photographic projects.
So, let’s be (without arrogance) more like Salgado. This creates awareness about our photographic works and gives us more connection. You’ll end in being someone and people will follow you not because that picture of yours is amazing, but because you and your engagement in your project are inspiring, like the three photographers I talked about here.
I’m going to reveal something to you: I’m planning to commit, very soon, to work on a photographic project. I’m not saying anything more right now. But stay connected: you’ll get the pieces of the puzzle along the way.
As always, comments are welcome and I promise I’m going to answer each of you and get in contact.