Of all the 12,000 photos I have on Flickr, dating back to 2003 when I got my first digital camera, I think that my Carrboro Farmer’s Market set best shows how I’ve grown up as a photographer; because it’s a set of a manageable size, but it’s also a subject I’ve been shooting off and on since 2005, coming up on five years now, and if you start at the beginning of the set and work all the way through to the end, I feel as though you can genuinely see my style remaining the same but my technical skills and my general eye for a shot improving. It is, obviously, not my primary focus, not my passion, but it is a constant and a location/subject I look regularly.
I love shooting at the farmer’s market, because once spring hits, the color is always so glorious. There’s very few places that rival a farmer’s market for such a huge range of vibrant color choices. Also, this one baker in Carrboro makes om nom nom delicious apple turnovers with a cheddar cheese crust. NOM.
But mostly: I can look at that set and see how hard I’ve worked. My photos of Carolina baseball span that time frame as well, starting about a year later, but they’re less revealing in large part because there are simply so many of them (1000+ instead of about 110), and in part because my first year with the SLR I was mostly flailing around in the dark technically. The difference in my baseball photos is infintesimal shot to shot and game to game; it’s only if you compare my shots from 2007’s regional to my shots from 2010’s season that you can see a difference, and that is, frankly, almost entirely gear-based. dSLR + shep.’s brand new Sigma 70-300mm or my battered Quantaray 70-210mm = infinitely superior to my old Canon PowerShot or my Coolpix L3. The same goes for my concert shots — I got better technically, mostly thanks to upgrading my gear to a kit that could handle what I was trying to do, and so I got better artistically, as well.
Shooting vegetables that don’t move, though, outdoors in sunlight — that all stays the same regardless of gear. So that’s where I can see my progress. It’s concrete, for me. I have worked this hard. I have made these steps. This is still what I need to improve.
I wince at my early shots, sometimes — sometimes I wince at shots from last month — but I can’t delete them, I can’t bring myself to “clean up” my Flickr stream, because all those shots are progress. Places I was before I was here, I guess. It’s important to me to keep my history around.
And, frankly, it’s important for my ego: to be able to see that I have gotten better. And I’m totally unashamed to admit that. Sometimes you need an ego kick, too.