Being in an environment surrounded by so many amazing photographers is greatly influential but also feeds deeply into my own self-doubt. We live in a society of artists that are constantly working to better them and move forward in their trade. This has been both a blessing and a curse for me. Part of me is thankful for all the non-stop inspiration that floods my feeds daily, but another part of me constantly feels like I will always be one step behind everyone else because we are all progressing at the same rate. I tell myself that when the feeling hits and I lose inspiration and the self-doubt floods my veins, to just keep shooting as much as possible until the feeling goes away. I daydream about getting a “big break” like some of my biggest inspirations and catapulting into bigger and better opportunities to create more and better myself. Then reality hits, and I realize that they probably never got a big break themselves and that they got to where they are because for all the hard work that they put in. Afterwards, I feel awful for undermining their hard work and dedication. I have to step back and think about the bigger picture. I realize that the people that inspire me have inspirations themselves. And with inspiration comes self-doubt. They may experience the same types of doubts as me because they probably haven’t hit the goal that they’re striving for as well.
“There’s always a bigger fish” as Qui-Gon Jin would say. There will always be someone out there that has been there and done that. When will the vicious cycle end? Sometimes I want it to, but most of the time I realize that it would be a terrible thing. When will I experience something that nobody else has conquered before? These are the questions I ponder when I’m alone. I think I have finally figured out the answer. Everyone has a different experience. Everyone has lived a different life. Every creator has been given different tools at different times in their life and it’s not safe to compare your situation to them because you will never be satisfied with the outcome. But this all leads me to another question: Do I want to be satisfied?
I feel like self-satisfaction is an ending point where the creating stops and the plateau hits. Maybe it’s good that I’m never satisfied. Maybe these feelings will never go away.
With joining The Show Last Night my main goal was to photograph my favorite artist, Conor Oberst. It took a couple years of pushing myself as a concert photographer to finally can get the opportunity to photograph him. I’ve never experienced a feeling of accomplishment like I did at Rock the Garden 2015 when I photographed Conor. I was hit with a decision after that. Do I stop now or do I keep pushing myself? I decided to not stop until I had the opportunity to point my lens at the biggest fish I could think of: Kanye West.
Kanye made it hard for me to photograph him. With a stage that was seemingly built for gods to look down upon their subjects, I had to greatly improvise and think on my feet. Having to wait until the motorized stage wandered into my focal length to take a photograph was painstakingly nerve-wracking. I felt like so much was on the line that night (10/10/16) because it was something I was looking forward to for over a year and I did not want to mess up.
After all was said and done, I got what I needed. I felt accomplished. I hit my goal. It was my first time reaching a major creative goal that I have set for myself. It was the first time that I felt like I accomplished self-doubt. After all that, I must start thinking ahead to my future. Do I want to stay satisfied with what I have accomplished with photographing music? I’ve shot so many of my favorite bands and artists over the years. Part of me wants to be done. But a part of me wants to keep trudging along until the next big thing. I think I can come to a compromise with myself and take a step back and only shoot the few shows that spark my interest. Maybe I will start shooting smaller, local shows to get back to where I first fell in love with shooting shows. But for now, I’m going to put all my time and effort in the other aspects of my photography. I want to create stunning portraits that can inspire the people who inspire me. I want to focus on my wedding photography where I can make my art one of the best aspects of the best day of someone’s life. I’m going to travel. I’m going to focus on creatively composing beautiful landscapes in ways that haven’t been explored and captured before. I’m going to succeed my own expectations with confidence that will shatter my built-up doubt in myself. I’m going to work to become the bigger fish.
Here are a few of my favorite concert shots from over the years: