Why did I become an abstract photographer?
The truth is, I never intended to be a photographer.
I just wanted to buy a camera so I could be a travel writer.
And I don't really like being cold. Trust me, that water in Iceland is cold. It has ice cubes floating in it. And my waterproof boots were not waterproof. Not one bit!
Let's fast forward through four years of struggling as I attempted to learn the basics of photography. I'd had my moments of sheer exhaustion, ready to give up, dotted by moments of bliss that kept me coming back to struggle more.
I sat in the passenger seat on our way to Banff National Park. I was excited by the trip, but I also felt lost. Bill, my boyfriend, sensed that. We discussed what I wanted to do, so I felt purpose. I’d had enough of corporate life, and was lucky enough to be able to quit. But after catching up on lost sleep and playing a lot for two years, which was great, I realized I needed more.
“What is it that excites you when you are taking photos? What can you see yourself focused on?”
I struggled to answer. I was feeling sorry for myself. I’d spent five years investing time and money in a travel writing program. At the first conference, I left convinced I needed a camera. What the speaker said made sense. People love visuals. They aren’t going to read a magazine article unless there are pictures. And magazines don’t have the staff or funding to hire a photographer to send to the place you are writing about. If you are there creating a story, develop visuals too. That’s how you’ll sell your travel articles.
Taking up photography sounded so simple.
But learning photography was so confusing.
I went to a camera store. What felt good in my hand slipped into a plastic shopping bag. I did not know how to use the camera, so I signed up for travel photography lessons from the same group I’d been learning about travel writing. There was a mixture of excitement and fear as I realized that what I bought required many other purchases I never intended or budgeted to make. Lenses, filters, cases, a backpack, a tripod I hated after opening two times, more lenses, another bag, the next tripod—it was an endless back and forth to the camera store.
I struggled with the math of photography. I paid for and attended several photography workshops. Once in a while, I’d take a photo I loved. I couldn’t stop looking at it. The rest were pure garbage.
And then, I signed up for a critique session. Weeks one and two of the critique sessions were fun. I got to see my peers’ travel photos, learn tips on cropping and composition from our mentor, and see how processing could bring the images to life. Then, on week three, he said, “Ann, you seem attracted to shapes, patterns, and textures. You need to add people and places to these. That's what people want to see in travel magazines.”
How could I have been so off course?
So sitting in the car, looking up towards rugged mountains, I faced reality. “I like patterns, textures, shapes. I hate travel photography. I don’t want to ask people to sign a legal form so that I can take a picture of them. I don’t want our meals to get cold because I need to take photos at a restaurant. I don’t want to be ‘on’ so I can interview someone at any moment. I need my space, my calm."
"The photography I like to take is abstract photography. I’d like to have a website and write about abstract photos. I know that sounds weird, doesn’t it?”
Bill smiled. He kept driving, but I could tell he was thinking. He finally said, “How about calling it Annstracts?”
Contemplating my next step
I didn’t say anything. I’ve never been good at hiding my reactions or lying. But at that moment, I could have won a poker game. I picked up my cell phone. I pulled up the domain name and found it was available.
After a few clicks, I looked up from my phone. “Done.”
He took his eyes off the road to look at me. “What?”
“I just secured Annstracts. The domain. I love it. It’s me. Let’s go look for abstracts!”
"Accidental Abstract Photographer of the Year:" award-winning, best-selling, top-rated!
Let's be honest with each other. There isn't an "Accidental Abstract Photographer of the Year" award. If there was, I would have tripped over it and ended up in the ER. I am not the person to run off at the mouth about accolades, awards, ratings, and over the top sales.
Sure, I could list out the achievements I've had. Show you the exhibitions I've trotted off to lugging prints around. I coud list out the galleries where my artwork has spent a couple months on a vacation from me. I could note the publications and share the magazines were my work has been showcased.
Those events meant something to me. But I've got a sneaky intuition that those things don't mean that much to you.
I have a hunch you care most about an escape from the everyday.
But just in case, here it is: proof that I am certified with an official stamp of approval.
The reality is, there are a billion artists in the world. Somehow, some act of force majeure brought you and I together. And that's good enough for me. Whether or not you are in the market for wall art, I welcome you. I hope you'll sign up for my private email list so I can let you in on fun stuff. I'm here to make the process easy too. Just reach out.
And if what I have doesn't work for you, I hope you will consider that the most important thing in purchasing art is that you are not buying an object that hangs on a wall. You are buying hundreds of hours of errors, experiments, frustrations, and a sprinkle of pure joy. There's a piece of heart and soul in each artist's piece. So basically you are buying a small piece of someone else's life. So learn about the artist before you make that investment, just like you are doing here. And when the right artist speaks to your heart and soul, take notice.