This photo above is one of my favourite pictures that I’ve ever taken.
And that thought scares me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the photo itself; it’s exactly what I saw in my head when I saw this scene in Steveston on the 15th of January, 2003.
As someone who often dabbles in photography, and is drawn to the creativity that photography offers, I am bothered by the fact that this photo sits on my hard drive at home, along with many others, as a sort of shrine to the “best of the best” of my work; if indeed I can call my photography “work”. It’s not bothersome that these photos merely exist, because I love to look through them often and find myself showing them off to others who are just getting into photography. I have examples of low depth of field, long exposures, action shots, portraits, landscape panoramas, and the list goes on.
There are two problems with this, in my mind. First of all, there are too many different types of photos in my collection. It reminds me that after all these years I have not found exactly what type of pictures I like to take. Maybe not a problem for some, but it is for me. Like everyone who is interested in photography, I want to get better. And I’m a believer in the fact that you can’t get better unless you focus a certain type of photography. I believe specializing is what turns average photographers in to good ones, and good photographers into pros. Of course, there are the photographers who can do anything; I’m not saying that this is not possible, I’m just saying that it’s rare. I think rare enough that it’s not worth aiming for.
The second problem with my great bank of photos is that I find myself looking at these old photos rather than getting out there taking new ones. I’m not consciously thinking “I’ll never do better than this”, but I can’t deny that my actions speak those words. That’s what scares me when I start to think things like “This is my favourite photo”. There’s a finality in that statement that unnerves me.
When I discovered Instagram, I loved it despite its crappy filters, low resolution photos, and the fact that I had to use my phone to take pictures and not a “real” camera. But what Instagram did for me was re-ignite my love of creative photography. The limitation of the medium was a gold mine for creativity.
On my Instagram bio it says “If asked what my best shot is, I’d always say ‘The next one'”. Maybe I should read that more often.
So from here on I will say that the photo at the top is my favourite photo… so far.