Just the other day I was interviewed by a local photography student who asked me a question that really made me stop and think… “What are you most excited about for the future regarding your photography career”?
To be honest, this was something that I had really never stopped and thought in depth about. Obviously we all have goals and specific plans, but most of us, including myself, don’t always take the time to reflect on our craft and the journey we’ve created through pursuing a passion.
Common answers that some might expect would be things like securing large clients, getting published in multiple outlets, having booming print sales or gaining expansive recognition. From a certain standpoint, these “victories” are important, especially for a business, because they usually stand for “making money”, and the truth is, making money is a pretty important part of running a business. From a personal approach, they can mean “acceptance” or “recognition”, which simply makes us feel good. That being said, I know from experience, and I’m sure others will agree, that all of the excitement and energy brought upon from these situations only lasts for a brief period of time before we move on to the next goal.
After thinking about the question, what truly stood out to me as the most appropriate answer was the “journey”. I enjoy all aspects of creating images, be it exploring, composing, learning, teaching or sharing. But really, the journey includes far more than just the most obvious aspects. In my opinion, the journey also includes everything non-photography related that this craft has taught me, such as self-discovery, passion, persistence, risk, reward, adventure and happiness.
It’s not really worth stopping to think about where I would be in life without landscape photography, because really, that’s a question that I could never answer. But I do put a lot of weight behind both becoming and remaining mindful of all of the positive influences it has had in my life. Landscape photography has taught me to truly appreciate the simple things, has helped me through tough times and has pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone in many different ways. It has allowed me to explore amazing places and experience beautiful moments, and it created a path for me to follow that otherwise I may never have found.
The Ebb & The Flow – Muskoka, Ontario
I truly believe that this applies to not just photography, but any passionate endeavor that we dedicate a large portion of our life towards. Really, the other elements that aren’t directly related to our passions are the ones that last a lifetime. Self-discovery, personal development, and the moments experienced are things that never grow old, are never brief, and end up strengthening the foundation that we are constantly creating. When something has a direct impact on your values and outlook, it becomes more than just a tick on the map or a brief moment of happiness. It shapes you and leaves buried deep inside you a feeling that will always be there.
In the end, it’s important to keep your journey true to yourself. Everyone will move at different paces, pick different routes and experience different challenges. If the path we take shapes us both as artists and humans than it’s necessary to follow our own way and never try to re-create another, because as we all know, it’s not so much the destination that matters, but the journey itself.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Kyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada. He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level. When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles. In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers. To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com