A Divergent Path


Wing Building pedestrian walkway on the Burlington, Vermont waterfront.

* Prints, Canvas wraps and Metal prints of this image are avalaible here!

Every artist at some point in their journey comes to a point where the work must diverge onto a different path or they risk stagnation and eventual death of their creative spark. Over the past few months I have done a lot of thinking about my own work and my position in the photography world at large. I can be honest in saying that I have come close on several occasions to giving up photography altogether and moving on with my life. I feel like my landscape and portrait work is progressing at a rapid pace however I have come to my own point of stagnation on the business side of my work and there is a point where all of your dreams and hard work just will never put food on the table or pay your bills.

I love what I do. I am passionate about photography, my own work and the work of all the great photographers around the world that I have had the chance to meet. I love to talk about photography and pass on any knowledge that I have gained to others. It’s the constant pressure to somehow measure or quantify my progression, i.e. am I making some type of living? Am I selling prints? Am I getting published? Do I honestly have a future in the photography world as a professional shooter? I am very critical of myself and my own work and most days I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to make great images and to sell that print or get this job.

All of this negative pressure has become a burden to me as of late, Most of it my own doing. I feel at times that it has affected my work as well as given me an overwhelming sense of stagnation that I am really trying to avoid. However two small things have really opened my eyes a bit and allowed me to lift this burden, This pressure from my shoulders a bit. I recently read an interview online with Thomas Hawk and in it he talked a little about his goal of publishing one million images before he dies. It was an excellent interview and he is one of the modern-day photographers out there that really inspire me. He is a prodigious shooter and I look forward to his image posts as the amount of subject matter he covers is just staggering. Looking at his images and reading this interview made me think about my own work in a new way and gave me some ideas to things a bit differently. The reason why this interview was so inspirational was that I feel at times I have painted myself into a corner but just shooting nature and landscape images 90% of the time. By not exploring the world around me more photographically I do myself a disservice by ignoring a wealth of potential images.

The second thing that opened my eyes a bit was a video documentary I watched on Netflix. The documentary was about a 85-year-old sushi master named Jiro. I am a food guy so watching a master at work was quite a thrill. In the video he talked about having dreams and in these dreams he had idea after idea for sushi dishes and that they kept him awake at night. It was an honor to watch someone who has spent a lifetime practicing his craft perform it with precision and attention to detail. Watching Jiro work gave me ideas about injecting more minimalism into my work as well as being more deliberate and patient with my compositions.

As I look back on my work over the past few years I find that some of my best images were shot with a wide-angle lens however even at its widest setting I would move as close as I could to my subject using my wide-angle lens’ minimum focus distance to my advantage. Shooting wide-angle, trying to get the whole scene into my image just does not work for me and in reviewing my images I feel that I am becoming more of an intimate landscape shooter, Cropping out all of the non-essential details in the scene. With the knowledge of what I like to shoot the most I can now shed any negative thinking about selling my work or not getting a particular photography job. Making images is whats most important to me and comes first over selling, social media or jumping on my computer to waste time doing something that probably does not matter anyways. All of these things together has allowed me to think beyond the typical images that I like to shoot.

Today’s image is part of a pedestrian walkway that spans between two buildings on Burlington’s waterfront and one that also illustrates perfectly my feelings in this post. I liked the shapes and lines going on here and shooting the walkway from below at an odd angle really showed its graceful curves and allowed me to place it within the frame in an interesting way. This is not a typical image for me but as I was shooting on this afternoon when I made this image I wasn’t thinking about anything else but the work that I was creating and I think this allowed me to be more open about what I was shooting.

Image Data: ISO 400. 24mm F8 @ 1/200.

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12 thoughts on “A Divergent Path

  1. Interesting and thoughtful post, Andy. Though I’m not in the same situation, I can relate having worked through many photographic styles during my 45 years of this imaging love affair. I’ve never settled on one specific genre and still enjoy variety.

    Your image today is graphically powerful. I like it except that the logo pulls my eye away from the main subject. Just an option. 🙂

    • Thanks Mark…I am not quite sure where I want to put the copyright. I generally leave it in the lower corner and depending on the image sometimes intrudes into the composition.

    • Many thanks Chris. Just collecting some thoughts I have had for awhile into that blog post! It’s weird how it ebbs and flows…Some days I don’t let it bother me and sometimes it just does bother me.

  2. Geat blog, Andy, and the subject matter of today’s photo connects with how, over the past two years, I’ve branched out into urban landscapes and find I’m just as excited by this field as nature/landscapes.

  3. A very insightful honest post, Andy. I think the pressure to sell and to get published puts an extra burden on one’s creativity. I’m fortunate that what I shoot is purely for my own pleasure and if someone else likes it then that is a bonus. I think we can exhaust one style after a while unless we have the opportunity to go to an entirely new location to re-energize our creativity. Sometimes I have felt that my output is spread across too broad a spectrum, and that I am, to quote an english phrase: ‘Jack of all trades but master of none’. But I have stopped getting hung up about it: the different genres that I explore make it less likely for me to stagnate through running out of ideas, I just switch to a different environment and look for a different category of images to shoot.

    • Thanks Andy..I agree with you. While I specialize in Landscape and business photography I feel at times one needs to diverge and shoot some other things. I think your work can get stale if you don’t venture into new territory once in awhile.

  4. A very interesting and thought provoking post. I agree completely that it is the pressures we put on ourselves which create the biggest problems to overcome.

    I really like this image, which was what drew me to your blog in the first place. I am very glad I found you.

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