Make It Your Own
[by Judy Herrmann]
One of the biggest challenges I faced as an emerging still photographer was finding my own voice as a visual communicator. I would look at the work of established professionals and become so lost in my admiration for their vision that I couldn’t find my own.
Eventually, I gained enough confidence to split from the herd and start producing creative work that showed a unique visual style, aesthetic and approach. First by using experimental lighting and darkroom techniques, then by adopting digital imaging tools as soon as we could get our hands on the technology, my partner, Mike, and I were able to craft the images we’d always imagined creating.
Two years ago, we started seriously exploring the possibility of incorporating digital video into the mix of services we offer. We knew that it would be a profitable addition but a part of me resented the idea of having to adapt my vision to this new medium.
The fact that our first exposure to shooting video came in the form of a workshop where documentary approaches were emphasized just made matters worse. After decades of refining a visual style that manipulated reality, we were back to working within the same limitations as film – only this time without experimental darkroom techniques.
I feared that we were setting ourselves up to compete with every DV camera operator out there for work that we were less than passionate about doing. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 23 years of working as a photographer – you can’t compete with people who are more passionate about getting the job than you are.
After feeling very dissatisfied with the video footage we were producing, it finally hit me. Instead of adapting to this new medium, I needed to make it adapt to me. We started experimenting with new approaches and techniques and now that we’re finding our voice using a variety of motion imagery tools, it’s clear the effort was worthwhile.
By taking control over our role in the process – the same way we did with stills – we’ve discovered an enthusiasm for this type of image making that we didn’t know we had. Along the way, we’ve realized that digital video isn’t the only motion imagery tool we want to use. CGI, Augmented Reality and Interactive Media all offer opportunities for us to express our vision in new and exciting ways.
Placing these tools in the service of our vision was the critical step to creating imagery that we’re passionate about and identifying new markets that need the kind of imagery we excel at producing.