I had this post saved in my drafts for a while now.
I came across the prompt “Photos that Speak to You” months ago and thought it would be fun and easy to search for photos that serve some source of inspiration to my creativity and own photography. I wrote down “Photos That Speak To Me” in the title bar, saved it as a draft, and scrolled past it numerous times since then because I never knew what to write.
I finally committed to writing this post. I had it saved long enough; it was time to act on it or delete it. I scoured my already saved and favorited photos from various social networks sites, going back to the earliest photos I clicked a button for to show how much I enjoyed the photo. (How odd is it that we show our appreciation and admiration for something by clicking a button and collecting images that we’ll rarely return to? I’ve spent the past few hours turning this over in my head, but that’s a topic for another time.)
I tried to figure out how I was going to organize the photos, how I wanted to present them, what I wanted to say about them. In an effort to procrastinate, I started going through some of my old photos, photos I had taken back in high school, five or six years ago.
They were not the best photos, not professional quality at all (although I doubt my photography skills have improved all that much) but there was something about the fearlessness of my photos that struck me.
Here I was, a seventeen year old girl with the self-confidence and bravery of a goldfish, posting self-portraits onto Flickr. Some photos had captions, some had titles, some had song lyrics or poetry, some had paragraphs of my rambles that had absolutely nothing to do with the photo above, and some were unaccompanied by any sort of text. I wasn’t trying too hard, I wasn’t aiming to gain popularity, I wasn’t dishonest in my presentation. I was an amateur, but I was eager.
My senior year of high school I started a 365 project with the intention of taking a self-portrait every day for a year. I only made it a couple of months before freshman year of college hit hard and the stress of a 365 project made me unenthusiastic about photography. And that was not the mood I wanted to be in.
When I stopped my project, I stopped taking photos. Not completely, but my fearlessness and unapologetic willingness that was with me when I was photographing was no longer there. I became shy and nervous with my camera, and even now I feel like having a camera strapped around my neck is the equivalent to a neon sign blinking above me, the shutter closing and opening like a blow horn going off letting people know I’m here! I’m here!
While I spent plenty of time looking through beautiful photography that truly inspired and impressed me, it was my own photos that spoke to me. Those were the photos that reached out to me, took my sweater in it’s fists and shook me hard, trying to get me to remember the feeling of emptying myself in front of my camera.
These photos are not the best ones I’ve taken, nor are they anywhere near the best photos I’ve seen. They’re mine, and I’m glad they’ve ignited a new drive in me to take photos more frequently and more freely.