I was trained in photography at a very commercial school. In what now seems like a deeply vintage mode, I learned to shoot perfume bottles and cereal boxes on a 4x5 view camera. Huddled there beneath a black cloak, I cut my teeth and squinted at inverted images while learning the basics of food styling and the ins-and-outs of studio lighting and film processing. Innumerable hours spent in the gloomy yellow light of the darkroom, timers ticking. I learned the trade of photography with classes in Fashion Portraiture and Photojournalism, and while creative, it was very skills-based. We were taught, in many ways, to be technicians.
Whenever I talk about my training or photography in general, these details come up a lot. I'm quick to differentiate between my school and those like OCAD, who focus on the art. I've been hesitant to blur the lines, modest about my own "artistry", likely just a protective mechanism, an odd bit of armour to ensure only my role as technical conduit is expected.
But, surely, I have the temperament of an artist. And when I look through my camera I see more than f-stops and shutter speeds. In the weeks since "I'm a photographer," has become a common statement, my pendulum is beginning to swing and I suddenly don't want to be seen as merely a tradesman with an expensive camera. I want to allow myself a bit of artistry. Allow the confidence to, in my quiet moments, be one . . . maybe. It seems so bold to go calling yourself an artist.
But unlike a plumber clearing a drain, I'm attempting to capture something else. When I take a photo of you, I want you to look pretty, sure, and always standing in great light. But I also want you to look like yourself. And I'm not just talking about smile lines and age, or a hair out of place for reality's-sake. When I see you through my camera, I see your spirit, the energy of your discomfort, perhaps, which might tell me something about you. Or your biggest smile, the laugh between poses. And it's these things, more than your best angle, I want to see.
And so, while I always hope to snap a well-composed frame, well-lit and technically sound, I want the magic too. And that's the part that makes me want to keep doing this.