Reflection – as a student of fine art at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) or OCAD University for you new kids, I learned the importance of reflection and the power it instills to the developing artist…Without reflection, it is impossible to grow and develop ones work. Through reflection, the artistic process is analyzed and we acknowledge our shortfalls. Ones shortfalls may be in technical skill level, knowledge of the subject, maturity, and idea or execution of the idea.
Reflection helps the artist create goals and pinpoint areas where skill development is necessary. This being said, growth through reflection is not necessarily immediate. Sometimes it can take months or even years to look back and reflect upon your work and grow from it. For instance, I remember a painting I started in my 4th year thesis class at OCAD. I was overwhelmed with the gigantic size of the canvass and how to incorporate colour theory into the textures and subject of the painting. I found I making little progress so I pushed it to the side. The painting sat in a corner in the studio for about 3 months. Finally after 3 months of skill development, staring and reflecting upon it I found a way to overcome the problems I was facing and successfully completed the painting…to this day I believe it is the finest work of art I have ever created.
In this sense, photography is merely an extension of the arts and as such, reflection is essential to the development of your work as a photographer. I have applied this principle to my own photography practice and development. Over the last several years I have compiled a wide array of different types of imagery and themes throughout my photography. I have grown and matured learning many new lessons along the way….AND…yet I continually identify new aspects of improvement and development everyday. Some of these realizations come from reflections I had sitting around tonight.
So I was sitting around going through work I have completed over the last few years. Going through the files I started to select images I had previously overlooked and put them in a revisit folder for future edits. I realized looking at the images that there was room for me to go back through and edit them in a way that could create a strong and emotional image. The reflection upon my work pinpointed the shortfalls I have with my selection process but also lets me see the work from a different perspective as I now have new skill sets and tools to work with. Also, my idea/approach to image creation has changed. Looking back and reflecting upon your photography work is one of the most important things you can do. Just because something didn’t work 3 months ago doesn’t mean it cant work now. What you learn from that work will also change the way you approach work in the future….
My advice to you is…look back on your work, don’t accept it at facevalue, acknowledge what it has done for you and pinpoint areas where it can be improved. You may be surprised at the new approach a fresh look on your past work can bring and it will highlight the achievements and progress you have made.
Your photography work is a testament to who you were and to who you have become…always continue to grow