On my mind

SarahMattozziPhotography-Film-Hose.jpg

Hello, hey, hi, I am still alive and well (just taking somewhat of a break from blogging and the internet in general.) I'm nearing the end of my first semester in my school's photo program and my world has kind of already been turned upside down (in the best way possible.)

I've been making pictures since I was 12 and never taken a single photo class until this semester, so my favorite thing by far has been being around other photographers/filmmakers every day, being forced to think and produce new art weekly, and getting feedback and honest critiques. Like, harsh critiques that make you hate and rethink everything you've photographed. And it feels so good though!

With facebook, blogs, social networking stuff, all people want now is pretty pictures. And it's so easy to get swept up in the portrait/wedding market where photographers are getting a constant stream of positive feedback and praise. After getting that praise for awhile, you start striving for that, and before you know it you are being a people pleaser and cranking out pretty pictures because you know people will like them. And then it becomes about a product, and not about art or about the content. You're not growing, no one is critiquing you and telling you that your work is getting repetitive and devoid of realness. You can have a pretty picture of two people but it can still be lacking content. The picture just hands it to you, pleases your eye for a few seconds, then you move on. I have a soft spot for commercial photography, so I don't think every picture has to be meaningful or deep or contemporary at all, but I do think that pictures should give you something to chew on and digest.

Which puts me in the place of where I am now- who am I? What do I want to shoot, and what do I want to be known for? Because the photography that excites me and the photography that I first dived after when I was 12 is certainly not the photography that I am shooting.

So what do all these thoughts sort out to? Honestly, I don't know. So maybe the problem is not what I'm shooting, but how I'm shooting it. Because I love families, and I adore photographing familial bonds and anything of that nature. I'd love to photograph the mom with her kids playing in the hamper at the corner laundromat, the kids in their special fort outside, the brothers fighting, or everybody joining hands to pray before dinner. Because I love LOVE, and I adore photographing the connection between two people and their family and friends celebrating on their wedding day, just not the commercial Hallmark, TLC wedding culture that has brainwashed many brides of today. Instead, I'd rather photograph the real, the imperfect weddings that are not full of cliches and unlimited budgets, but still completely full of love and family.

“I am not interested in shooting new things - I am interested to see things new.” - Ernst Haas

And part of me hates confessing these things, because I'm scared of people being offended that I don't always enjoy every facet and genre of photography, especially since I've been photographing this way for so long, but after talking to a good friend I have finally realized that I don't have to be that person. I don't have to be the photographer that I don't want to be, because there are a million other photographers that enjoy that type of work who are called to do it, I am just not one of them.

So bottom line- I am still going to photograph weddings, family shoots, etc., because there are many aspects of it that I love too much to stop, but I am just going to be reevaluating the way I shoot them. I'm also going to start showing more of the things that make me eager to photograph in the first place, and the things that I ultimately want to be shooting. My latest schoolwork has been pushing me to reevaluate my shooting style overall, but it is good stuff to think about, and I don't think I ever want to stop questioning the way I work. Because it's the questions that make progress once you start looking for the answers. I'm going to be making some changes around here, so all that said, please bear with me while I continue growing into my skin.

"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are." -Ernst Haas