Finding Your Voice


I wrote my first poem in second grade for a contest that I am pretty sure I didn’t even know I was entering. I won second prize. I still have the little plaque I was awarded for winning. I can even, given a few minutes, find the actual text of the poem if that is something anyone is interested in. It is with no small hubris that I say that I am far better at poetry than photography, I have the prize to prove it. So, in a first I am posting without a photograph to talk about something in common with the poetry and photography: finding your voice.


In poetry circles, professors and poets speak of the need to find your voice as a way to urge you to find your own particular style and method of writing your poetry. A student of poetry reads works spanning the masters to their fellow students so they hear the voices around them and begin to develop their own style. Photographers speak of developing their “eye”, as photography is a visual medium this only makes sense. I prefer voice because an “eye” is a passive thing, a voice is active, it requires thought and action to merge to create words in order to communicate ideas. An eye receives, a voice projects.


That being said, I struggle to find my voice in photography. I take a lot of photographs, I rarely write poetry these days. I spend hours searching for things to photograph, but I do not “create” photographs. I possess a gift, for capturing a moment when I find it, but composing a moment from scratch eludes me. It is frustrating for me to not be able to communicate in the images I love with the same precision and creativity as I know I can apply to language. I can take a good photograph, I cannot make one.


Whatever your passion is, the struggle to define yourself within it is the one element of life you are in total control over. If you do something and love this thing you do, never stop searching for the way set yourself apart from others who share such passions. The journey to find your voice never ends, you will continually refine it through the span of your life. It is the challenge that makes you more.