Friday was the 8th anniversary of my website. I feel bad for missing it, so with special logic, I'm marking it with a blog post/brain fart (there's no difference).
This blog starts with a niggle. It bothers me that the least creative part of creative peoples’ websites is often the ‘artistic statement’ type of page. This is in itself nothing to be frowned at (because deciding how to present yourself in a couple of paragraphs is not easy).
The niggle is that 95% of the time you will find some variation of the phrase ‘I have a passion for xyz’. Why do you say that? It should be obvious. You shouldn't have to point it out to people. If you don't have a passion for what you're doing, if it's not fun, then why are you doing it? (I am deliberately ignoring the almighty dollar here; there are not a lot of people getting rich off concert photography).
What do people even mean by passionate? I am not a person with a talent for wrapping things up in flowery language. Take the following 2006 thought process as an example. "What do I do? I take pictures of bands on stage. Oh, there's the website name sorted then."
But when I read things like 'I am passionate about blah blah blah', I think, what does that actually tell me about that person? Here’s the part where you will either start to understand me a little better, or think I’m completely full of crap. Probably both :)
What makes it fun for me, why I have persevered with this, where the 'passion' lies, is not because it's glamorous (it mostly isn't), but because when it's good, it scratches some big itches.
Here's a description of a bad day at a gig. I feel rushed, hemmed in, distracted, can't find a comfortable spot, am hyper-sensitive to my surroundings, distracted, preoccupied, feeling too conspicuous, feel I'm not connecting with the gig, etc. etc. A lot of the 'problems' originate in my head, and most should be controllable, but occasionally I struggle do the mind over matter thing and just can't settle. In spite of this, I will deliver a good result. There is some satisfaction in being at the point where I know I can do that most of the time. However, that in itself is not inspiring.
Now a good day: Despite the physical nerves in the pit of my stomach that I get before the house lights go down, I'm calm because I know it will stop as soon as the show starts. I don't know beforehand if I'm going to come out with anything that makes me happy, but I do know that the more absorbed in what's happening on stage I am, the better it's likely to be. If the band is having a good time, and I get tuned in to that, I'm having a good time too. I bounce off what I see and feel. You can only prepare so much, at showtime it's just you and them. I strongly believe that the most satisfying images don't come from thinking about settings and worrying about perfection, they come from your heart and your gut. Some of my favourite photos (actually *most* of my favourites) have been taken while I'm committing what some believe (I have read the derogatory 'fangirl' and 'fanboy' comments too many times on photography forums to not be aware that this is a thing) to be the cardinal sins of an amateur, singing or dancing (or both!), and immersed in the show, and not remotely thinking about the actual process of taking a photo. If you're consciously thinking about it, you're missing something. There is the instant gratification/fun factor from knowing that you're in the zone (it can be a bigger rush than a rollercoaster), and then the 'afterglow' part of getting back and giving the pictures that you like the most a light polish to turn them into something that you're excited about showing people. There's also the fear of getting the reaction, finding out whether you've got it even remotely right in the eyes of the people you want to get it right for. These are the things that I care about.