Managing Expectations

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After deep personal reflection due to life-changing events, I came to the conclusion that my push, infatuation, to further excel in the field of photography was being hampered by my embrace of the technical aspects of the medium as well as the social pressures of out-performing others rather than embracing my feelings for, and in it.

For decades I’ve focused my attention on simply making money with my camera. I’ve by-passed scenes while driving down a road that I knew I should have made because I felt there was no place for it in the marketplace. I resigned these images to the corners of my memory rather than a print only to be haunted by them later.

Because of so many missed or ignored opportunities in my life, I decided to return to my roots where, at one time, I simply enjoyed trying to express my feelings, or the feelings of others, in an image.

I instinctively knew while pondering the issue of “who I was as an artist” that one of the problems I was facing was the ease of making digital images. Digital has become a crutch to almost every photographer that utilizes the medium. The ease of deleting and simply remaking the image, digital manipulation, and instant delivery to virtually any source has molded a new brand of Photographer in which the art, in my mind, is no longer appreciated. Digital has demoted photography to the snap-shot and not a work of art.

Over the years I fell victim to this disposable mentality that permeated every corner of my life resulting in anger, frustration, and eventually disaster. I lost myself. I lost my sympathetic nature resulting in inner conflict and outbursts of anger affecting everyone around me.

Sunrise on Eagles Nest. Livermore, Colorado April 28, 2018

Abandoning Digital

Digital is not fully to blame for this new perspective on the photographic arts. The influence of social media has resulted in a cascade of manipulated imagery billed as art to which photography no longer belongs. The term graphics is more appropriate.

Social media left me a need to compete for recognition within peer groups and amateurs alike. Sadly, I sometimes found myself making images that I knew were substandard but better than others, just to make myself feel better. In retrospect, my actions were that of a playground bully and not a self-respecting Photographer and artist, and I’m not the only one though I may be one of a hundred willing to admit it.

Now, when I look at social media I have a clearer understanding of what has happened to society thanks in part to publication platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram as it’s reflected at every level of our civilization. Influencers now control the perception of what is good and what isn’t in almost every realm of artistic expression.

In removing myself from these platforms, and returning to the use of film, I found peace in remembering why I became interested in photography in my humble beginnings. I’ve been able to refocus my perspective on what is real and tangible by seeing a scene in my mind’s eye before ever touching a camera, and relearning to express myself while coming to terms with the way the scene makes me feel. Hopefully, my efforts will invoke an emotion in the viewer be it good or bad.

Bingham Hill, Laporte,CO

Over the years I began shooting images for profit. I always considered to whom and where I could sell an image. In our modern times, publishers will print anything, good or bad, so long as it’s cheap and is visually in line with the story they want to print. They always seem to know when you need money and therefore offer the lowest amount possible for the use of an image. Believing that your sacrifice will gain you notoriety the payment is accepted only to notice nothing changed with the exception of your standards.

After years of being manipulated, the opportunity to reflect on those efforts manifest, and it’s quickly learned that the efforts were of little value and that the sacrifice was made in vain. It’s then a decision is made to either continue the path you’ve placed yourself on or begin to live your best life in love with art that’s moldable, fluid, dynamic, and which allows for the expression of your concerns, love, or desires. I’ve chosen the latter not only in the field of photography but also in my personal life.

Regrets stem from unrealized actions. In my lifetime I’ve witnessed my own downfall due to many traumas that I’ve only begun to reconcile. Embracing truth about myself, others, my art, and my concerns have allowed my love for the natural world, its inhabitants, the environment, my art, and myself to grow and expand beyond my own understanding. With any luck, my efforts will positively affect others. That is my goal. To truthfully express me, my loves, and my dislikes in my art.

Avid backpacker, hiker, and explorer; veteran wildlife, conservation, and environmental photographer, Hawk has been published internationally since 1994 and has contributed to the National Geographic Society, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace International, and other well-known publications. In 2021 Hawk's photography was featured in Nebraska Life, Colorado Life, and Utah Life Magazines while also contributing to 5280 Magazine, NoCo Style Magazine; and in 2020 became a Getty Images photographer where his wildlife images were featured in several publications in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Europe.

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Managing Expectations

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