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Home > How to Express Yourself as an Artist and Photographer

I want to share some lessons I have learned from the fantastic book by Ernst Billgren, one of Sweden’s leading artists, What is Art?

How to Express Yourself as an Artist and Photographer

To do this, let’s take a look at one of the questions and answers that make up this fascinating read.
Looking at question 104 – How to express yourself as an artist and photographer? He simply puts

  1. A short answer:

You have no choice!


  1. A Long answer:

How you think determines what you think. All art is a kind of self-portrait, or at least an impression of who you are, where you are, and when you are.
You may not be able to determine what you are thinking about, only how much.
You do not control the direction, only the speed. If you want to change how you work or how you think, you should change everything around yourself instead of changing yourself.

 I find that an interesting concept of changing everything around yourself rather than yourself. For example, time and information management.
Time is the ultimate resource that we have in this world – we can never buy time.

The less time you spend on the non-essentials, the more time you can spend on what is essential (creating your art through your photography). How good does it feel when you do a big clear out of your wardrobe or clean your hard-drive?
Having a tidy surroundings, gives way to having a tidy mind.
Be extremely guarded in terms of the kind of information, stimuli, people, and ideas you let into your mind.
An idea could be instead of trying to jam-pack and add more pressure on your life. Make a chart or write a list of your schedule and free up more time rather than trying to ‘add’ free time.

Where can you free up this time I hear you ask?

If you take public transport, maybe photograph a particular bridge, building or person you meet frequently en route.
If you have a long bus journey, listen to a photography podcast – The Art of Photography podcast is a fantastic podcast http://theartofphotography.tv
Ted Forbes is a photographer and filmmaker. He started producing The Art of Photography as a podcast in 2008 and the show has since grown into a popular YouTube channel and resource website providing a 360° view of photography to a global audience.

Instead of using social media to pass the time, look at photographs and books on photography. Analyse the composition, look at the light. Why do you like it or dislike it?

Set a time that every week you will commit to your art. It is so easy to fall behind unless we make it a priority.

Another point is to not censor yourself when it comes to photographing. Kill that little inner-critic.

I think as an artist and a photographer, one of the most difficult things is to make yourself vulnerable. Once you release your art into the world, you leafe yourself open to criticism, open to being judged, and open to being misinterpreted. Think about what Billgren suggests, Art is a Self-Portrait. This can be intimidating at first and you don’t immediately need to publish your work on social media. Work through your ideas first. Perhaps photograph a project for a number of weeks and months before showing your work to others. Firstly, believe in the work, understand where it is going, know your moral compass. You will become less fearful of criticism, positive or negative. You can stand up for your work.

I think the best artists and photographers are the ones who create work that is a reflection of who they are, how they see the world, and the amount of courage they put into their work in making themselves vulnerable.

At the end of the day, being an artist and a photographer is about following your own path, not letting self-criticism get in the way, treating photography as your passion, knowing who you are as a human being, and sharing your unique viewpoint with the rest of the world.

And To finish with Billgren, What is Art?

  1. Short Answer: A way of thinking.

  2. Long Answer: If you assume that we think through language, then art is a way of thinking about things that we lack any other language for.

Interested in developing your photography skills? Or maybe you’d like a taster workshop? Get in contact with our staff today and find out more about our great London photography courses.

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