I grew up in West London, in the shadow of Heathrow Airport. As a kid I’d often gaze out of my bedroom window, mesmerized at the endless flow of air traffic coming and going.
Distant specs high above the rooftops would gradually becoming lumbering Boeing 747’s, awkward and ungainly with their wheels down and noses up. I’d wonder about the people on board; what had they left behind? what would they make of my part of the world? what would they add to it?
Does growing up close to a busy airport make us pre-disposed to travel?
If I look out of my window as I type this, it’s still possible to see planes landing, only now it’s a different flight path on a different contintent and yet it still taps into the well of curiosity that kid growing up near Hounslow felt 30 years before.
I know more of the world now, much more; and in the process of learning about that world I know more about myself.
The best thing you can do as a photographer is make pictures that reflect the way you relate to the world. Things that are unique to you.
One of those things for me, is something that travelling taught me: We’re not as different or as divided as we think. The idea that different ethnicities, cultures, faiths and nations should mark people as more different from each other than similar is a construct advanced by people who generally speaking want to take something that was never theirs to take.
If we wish to be thought of as creative people, never mind artists, we should push back against these divide-and-conquer mentalities with confidence and clarity. Art itself pushes back against this snake-oil with great confidence – music, photography, dance, whatever the art form, is inherently inclusive and I’m convinced that those who create it are, by extension, the same.
I used to think having opinions and expressing them in the face of ignorance, bigotry, and injustice would somehow run the risk of alienating potential clients. What if they don’t share my views?
Now I think that the more of ourselves we put into our work, websites, blogs etc, the more we attract the kind of clients we want (and repel the kind of clients we don’t.)
The more our work tells potential clients about who we are, the easier it is for the like-minded ones to find us.
Before I go I want to give a huge shout out to Chase Jarvis, Jasmine Star, and this which really got me thinking about how we present ourselves, and how we differentiate ourselves as photographers. There’s enough stuff in these links to keep me engrossed for months and I just wanted to pass them along.