Over the weekend I found out that my photograph “Reflection” from 2015 has been among the nominees in the category Professionals/Nature for the Black and White Spider Awards . Now, of course, being nominated isn’t winning (and it didn’t win) – but the award is one of the largest and most prestigious competitions for black and white photography, so by being selected among the nominees I do feel very honored. As they say, it might be a small step for mankind, but it’s a big step for me and my work.
Generally I am not very fond of photo competitions. They often reflect more the current fashion in the various photography genres than true personal expression (which, admittedly, also might be difficult to judge). One can e.g. see that quite a few of my colleagues (and jurors) are quite fond of the work of Michael Kenna. Now, Michael Kenna is certainly one of the most important current photographers and I myself admire and love his work. But I still think that diversity in approach is far more valuable; I’d rather hear the personal voices of these photographers even if the result might be more risky. But I don’t judge them – I myself do know the lure of producing something thought to be pleasing instead of questioning over and over again: is this genuinely my view on the world. And “Reflection” plays into the modern landscape minimalist theme, too.
Michael Kenna once told that he was strongly inspired by the landscape work of Bill Brandt. Brandt in return once said: “Photography is no sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried.” And like Kenna who went beyond Brandt and found his own voice, I strive to go beyond my influences (and my limitations) to speak in my very own voice. In this I am not competing with any other photographer(s), instead I am rather struggling with my inner demons.
One step every aspiring photographer has to take is to become a good judge of photographs. Without any insights into what good composition, novelty, creativity, use of light mean it is nearly impossible to make any progress. After all, a photographer has to constantly judge his/her own photographs. But this self-evaluation-process is difficult and sometimes painful – e.g. when one has to condemn own work despite being fond of it. This also means that not being a self-starter is a non-starter. Only I myself can push me forward in finding my voice. No-one else can tell me what my voice should be. This is therefore a process accompanied by lots of fear, uncertainty and doubt. A process that often includes three steps forward and two back.
Which is why I went out today into the snow to take some more photographs. And I admit, being in high winds at the coast in the snow and being the only one around has a touch of magic to it. So I admit: I love what I do. And while I am in confession mode: yes, having one of my photographs also recognized by an international jury feels very good indeed.
Here a shot from today: