Adam: Dre, Can You Turn the Beat Up?

Jul 09

Adam: Dre, Can You Turn the Beat Up?

Throughout your life, people will always tell you the phrase, “You can be whatever you want to be.” Growing up, you can go about it two different ways: 1) those people are just repeating some random nonsense their parent told them; or 2) “I think, therefore I am.” Two completely different train of thoughts but with completely different outcomes.

Another saying people spout out, especially artists, in whatever medium, is “it found me, I didn’t find it.” Music found me. Art found me. Photography found me. Shut up.

We do something because we have adoration for it. We do something because we might be good at it. We do something because we need an identity.

In the age of Narcissism, aka today, we live in a time of trying to find an identity. Our jobs, religion, sexual preference, type of clothes we wear; all things we use to identify and assimilate. Without an identity, we’re a nobody. That’s the biggest fear our generation fears the most. Not death, not spiders, not Lady Gaga. We don’t fear the unknown. We fear being unknown.

I remember the first photographs I took. A friend wanted to make some fake blood and see what happens.


This photograph did something to me. It was the time of emo swoops and Elliot Smith worship, so yes, melodrama at it’s finest. But I remember looking at this picture and thinking there was some potential here. It was the first creative thing I did that visually  gave me assurance that maybe, just maybe, there was an ounce of talent in my body.

Through the years, I upgraded my equipment, studied up, yet eventually settled on doing something different. I took pictures. I wasn’t a photographer. It didn’t define me.

Josh Todd, Buckcherry

As I got more work, I realized that I wasn’t labeling myself as a photographer, but others were. It’s the same as my friends would get labeled as “that guy from that band.” Ok Adam. You’re  the photographer. I almost felt like I didn’t earn the title. It was given to me. The word photographer didn’t hold any merit. I might as well be called an astronaut or the Kool-Aid man. They were all make believe labels that anyone could be if they chose it. “I think, therefore I am.”

As cameras got cheaper and Facebook business pages were a snap to setup, anyone could become a photographer. Back in March, I remember soliciting for photo shoots at Wye Mountain. “Photographers” were promising amazing pictures for cheap prices. In all honesty, I got jealous and upset when I would see people asking for more information from those photographers and not me. In my mind, I knew I was better than them. They were hacks. I was a real photographer. I’ve been in national magazines. I was a “professional.” It finally set in my mind. I now truly believed I was a photographer. It was the identity I was choosing to place on myself. It was what I wanted to be known as.

Harper at Wye Mountain

Sometimes weeks go by and my camera hasn’t been touched. For anyone who has read The War of Art would know, this isn’t how the true professional works. Weeks go by and I don’t practice my craft, study up on new techniques. Am I really a professional? What makes me more professional than “Sally Soccer Mom’s Photography?” The quality? The price I charge clients? The self-prescribed label I’ve placed on myself?

In high school, everyone wanted to play guitar to get girls. As you get older, everyone wants the great job to the most money. Now, with cheap professional cameras, everyone wants to be a photographer. I feel like I’m competing with everyone who’s a camera owner. Yet, the hardest thing to admit is I’m really just competing with myself.


It’s hard not to look at yourself and your accomplishments without also looking at your peers. You may be able to block it from your mind, but if you’re on Facebook (and let’s face it, everyone and their moms/pets are), it’s gonna be right there showing it’s ugly face everytime you login. It’s inevitable. It’s who we are as a people. We look at others with envy. We want to look at others and be happy and excited for their accomplishments, but far too often, we can only say, “why not me?”

I feel at times slighted for not getting due what I think I should have at times. But why should I look down at those soccer mom’s who label themselves photographers who might be getting more business than me? What am I doing to separate myself from them? Why am I blaming anyone other than myself?

Is it really the fear of being unknown? Or am I just afraid of failing to be known?


Maybe a true photographer wouldn’t ask these questions. Maybe a true photographer would just shoot. Take the shot. “In the biz” they say, ‘whatever it takes to get the shot.”

What else really matters?

I may have chosen my identity. However, I must realize that I get to choose the effects I want it to have on my life.



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