Paul D'Andrea Photography

Noticing – July 11, 2012 (Finding my voice)

I’ve been thinking lately about how we photographers never get past making the standards.  The flowing stream with the soft blurry water, the pretty girl in a field of wildflowers (with lens flair), or today’s image: the mannequin through a shop window. They’re good tunes, old standards, but not quite my own.  Sometimes I make a picture because it fits a mold, it’s hard to pass up.

I think this is a good thing, at least at the start, otherwise you become the arteest who refuses, right from the beginning, to speak in visual conventions and winds up never making accessible images.  (Not that all images should be easy to read, but they shouldn’t be completely obtuse either.)

This is absolutely my struggle, looking at my own images and seeing the patterns made by others.  Great photographers who do fantastic work, but but it’s their work, not mine. I don’t want to be satisfied replicating, even if it’s replicating beautiful things.

This has been the point of Noticing, I’ve found the best way to learn to say my own things is to say things often. You find your voice through speaking.

I think my nature and noticing pictures are my own, I really feel that I’m expressing my own ideas.  The same is not always true for my portraits, though.  For some it is, like Red, but for others I’m still following protocols.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing, certainly it isn’t for standard new employee headshots; I’ve got a job to do there and I’m happy to do it.

But there’s certainly room to grow. There always is, but it’s more than just room to improve. I want that, but I also want more of my voice in my portraits. Found through speaking, I guess, time to get to work.

Commercial photographer in Indianapolis, IN.


  • Barry Lively

    July 11, 2012

    I understand the problem very well. I was just looking at the introductory slideshow at and, especially toward the beginning of the set, I see stuff that is moving outside the conventional bounds. I think there is a lot to be said for doing what at first glance might look rather conventional but on looking more closely (something about the image has warranted that second glance) there is some undefinable secret ingredient that makes it different. Getting to know your subject (especially in portrait work) is a good beginning and more broadly there is Minor White’s quote: ‘ When you approach something to photograph it, first be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence. Then don’t leave until you have captured its essence.’

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea too, to invite some people whose judgment you trust to review your work from time to time to see if they see changes in your work over time. I, for one, do see changes/improvement.

  • Erik Deckers

    July 11, 2012

    The same is true for a lot of new writers, especially fiction writers. They want to write what they know. So you have a bunch of college students all writing coming of age stories, or stories about young college students in love. Or they’re all writing about an incident that happened to them — that ends up happening to all kids in their lifetimes — but they think they’ve got the unique twist on it.

    It’s the daring writer who doesn’t write what feels comfortable, but what rings true.

    Something tells me that for you, girls in fields and blurry streams of water don’t ring true.

    Go read some of what Ernest Hemingway said about finding “that one true sentence.” He tried to do that every day. It sounds like you’re looking for “that one true photo.”

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