Photography and the X Factor

What strikes me when I watch the X Factor, is not the quality of Ella Henderson’s voice, but that she is so ‘unaffected’. There were other girls of Ella’s age that made it through from the auditions. Granted, their voices were not in the same league as Ella’s. The other girls seemed to place more importance on their make up and image. Maybe they were trying to compensate for what they lacked in other areas, but they were still good singers. It is easy, these days, to become too self aware. A preoccupation with how you come across to others, can make you self conscience and inhibited. In the end it prevents contestants from being able to be themselves and let themselves and their voices go. This a one way road to mediocrity.

Ella naturally has an amazing voice, but what is it that enables her to transmit her voice with such purity, when so many other girls of her age struggle with this? It is one thing to have a natural talent, but another to be able to communicate and freely to express that talent.

What has this got to do with photography? As with all art forms, photography – like singing is a means of communication. To be able to communicate effectively, the channel of communication has to be clear. Stuff tends to get in the way. What will other people think? Feeling unconfident together with our insecurities clog up this means of communication. We can let ourselves down by trying too hard and trying to emulate others. All that has to go.

What’s important is:

– your engagement with your chosen subject,

– a good execution of that subject-even if this means reshooting until you get it right,

– being in the moment and being open to responding to the subject in front of you,

– not caring what other people think – making work that pleases yourself,

– being true to your initial ideas and practice, practice, practice,

– then having the confidence to put it out there.

If work is pure people will be interested. If it is not they will smell it a mile away.

Ella Henderson’s voice is a natural talent, but she has the confidence and self assurance to communicate her talent. That is why she is going to win the X Factor. How do you get to that position?  Ella is only sixteen and probably hasn’t had as many knocks and rejections as many of us. Her parents must have had a lot to do with it, and have nurtured their daughter and her incredible voice.

So how can I make my own work better and communicate more effectively?
For a start, I could turn off my TV set and do something less boring instead..

1 comment
  1. Another enjoyable and challenging essay, thank you.
    Your photographs sit really well with your words..

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