Am I Unique? / by Stefaan Conrad

A few weeks ago I wrote out my thoughts on my thesis. Following that post, I had a presentation to the faculty of the art department which was a chance for me to receive feedback from my professors. The comments on my presentation and my idea came back and they all had a similar critique.

“As artists we all have our own unique ways of seeing things that excite us. What is your unique view of this particular aspect of your life? “

“…it [seems] like you haven't found your unique contribution to the subject matter yet.”

“How is your project going to cover any new ground in comparison to these similar projects?”

“I feel like this is a watered down version of what you have the potential to do for your thesis project.”

“What is it about your work and vision that will differentiate it? “

Reading these comments was hard. Thinking about it was discouraging. My mind was coming up blank with ways to respond to the critiques.

I can’t discount the feedback, however. These words are coming from my mentors and professors who know what I should be able to produce and what kind of work I am capable of. On the other hand, if I am trying to break into a genre of photography and a level of project depth with which I have no experience, should I already know exactly how I’m going to be different from the field that’s already out there? Or does the development of my voice come with the development of my project?

I don’t know right now what my voice will be at the end of all this and I don’t know how each individual shoot will contribute to the message of my project as a whole. Instead of waiting for a moment of divine inspiration or to suddenly realize what my uniqueness will be, I’m going to keep shooting and keep chasing the look I’m after.

It’s hard to receive critiques, everyone struggles with that to some degree. I hope to keep this feedback in mind and push myself to figure out what I, as an artist, want to say. I have faith that I’ll find my own way to be different.

Here’s a quick drone panorama I captured this week. Here on the Holy Hill we have some of the most gorgeous fall mornings. Angwin starts out shrouded in a cloud but, as the sun hits the hills, the clouds break and give the valley a mystical and beautiful light.