The Evolution of the Photographer

In Issue 79 of LensWork magazine I read an interesting quote from Brooks Jenson:

“I’ve often said of my own work that in my early years I tended to photograph for other people; in my middle years I tended to photograph for myself; and as I’ve matured, I find more and more I photograph in response to the generations of artists through the ages who have come before me”

For me, this quote resonated with my experience as an artist. As a younger photographer (20’s and 30’s), I shot with other people in mind. I wanted people to see what a ‘clever’ and ‘creative’ photographer I was. I was just hunting for accolades! Whenever I went shooting with other photographers the outing turned into a competition. It was all about who could make the best images. I was so preoccupied with watching what other photographers were doing and competing to be the best that I lost track of the reason I was shooting in the first place–personal expression.

Later, in my 40’s, I gave up trying to please others–or worse, trying to out-gun them! Instead I shot solely for myself. I turned inward creating images that were meaningful to me and that fed my soul. In the end, the only person I needed to please was myself. This phase continues today but I feel something more stirring inside….

I find I am in agreement with Brooks Jensen:  I think photographers end up creating their best and most memorable work in their ‘mature’ years.  A sense of history and place is coming over me. I want to create images that come from my soul but also give a tip of the hat to my artistic predecessors.  Who I am today is necessarily a product of those who have produced before me, and it is this realization that is somehow the most comforting for me. Darwin

Balsam Poplar Leaf in Allstones Creek

5 Responses to “The Evolution of the Photographer”

  1. pixelatedimage Says:

    Truer words ne’er spoken Darwin.

    Hey thanks for the link to my blog – I’ve been a fan of yours for a couple years, often tried to schedule one of your workshops into my year but so far to no avail.

    Nice to see you’ve got a blog now – more ways to track my favourite artists is always welcome.

    Kind Regards – David duChemin,

  2. Hi Darwin,
    Isn’t the ‘net a great thing for lazy Sunday morning when the weather isn’t great for anything but surfing? And look where I wound up?

    It’s great to see you have a blog.

    Motivation and creation are almost at opposites with each other. One can most definitely stifle the other. For all the artists and photographers I have worked with through the years, I have found no two were ever the same when it came to motivation. It is such a personal thing. Always fluid. Always changing.

    Just being outdoors like you say can do it. Don’t you find that at times, EVERYWHERE you look, you see potential photos? No matter where you live, there is beauty and drama around us to be photographed.

    Good luck on the blog,
    ps congrats on the POTY. Great stuff.

  3. Darwin,

    Well put. Funny I started out almost in reverse. When I started I always photographed for myself, not for others, but trying to replicate the work of photographers wh came before me. Now I have taken what I learned in trying to replicate and have turned inwards to express what I feel inside of me with respect to my relation with nature.

    Thanks for the thought rovoking post.

  4. Great to see that you have a journal up and running Darwin, as I have followed you and your work for a good while now. It certainly will be nice to hear a few syllables here and there coming from a photographer such as yourself.

    Michael Brown

  5. Hey Darwin, great to find your blog. I saw your work first at photosig, I think and always thought it to be inspiring. I hope I can follow your work more closely through your blog. Best wishes,

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