A few weeks ago, I mentioned I was starting up The Cooking Project. My goodness has a lot happened since then! I have been cooking up a storm and indulging in so many new and interesting recipes. I've gathered new kitchen tools for cooking as well as different dishes, napkins and props. I've learned so much through experimenting with food styling and looking through cookbooks and blogs with excellent food photography. With over 40 recipes photographed in the last six weeks or so, it has been a whirlwind of activity in my apartment!
The Cooking Project has turned into a full blown frenzy in food photography, styling, cooking, recipe reading, and anything food related. Leave it to me to get wrapped up in a whole new project when so many other things are still on my plate (no pun intended!). But this has been a good lesson for me. In getting so-called-side-tracked in food photography, I began to think about my committment to wildlife photography. If I wasn't planning for trips, studying species as subjects, and looking at wildlife photos and projects all the time because I am busy with something so different, like food photography, then does that mean I am less of a wildlife photographer? Does it mean I am not really as passionate about it as I thought? I started to mull over where my head and heart were at until I realized something important. Why would I stick to just one thing?
Our culture places so much value on finding that one thing you do best and then working hard to excel at it. There is weight given to "focus", "commitment", "drive", and a narrow passion for something -- on having one style, or one expertise that brands you. But what about the value that comes from knowing a little bit about a lot, of being proficient at many things? Much can be gained from being single-minded about something, and I appreciate and admire folks who dedicate their lives to certain pursuits or a single subject, but I also have decided it's perfectly okay for me not to be one of them.
This is true for me in photography and every aspect of life. I don't want to have just one style or subject in photography. I don't want to have just one topic I write about. I certainly don't want to have just one skill I focus on perfecting. While some may call it being scattered, or distractable, or showing a lack of commitment, I've decided all my many bouncing interests just make my life, well, more interesting! If that means I do not earn the recognition or even respect that one who focuses whole-heartedly on a subject is likely to gain, that's alright by me -- it is more important to me to fully enjoy photography even if that means bouncing wildly from grizzly bears to rescue dogs to food to who knows what.
Right now, I am having so much fun learning about tricks for composition, styling, plating, lighting, and other aspects of a good food photo, and this could very well translate into success in other areas such as macro or landscape photography. And more importantly, falling into food photography has given me a new zest for cooking, for creating something delicious from healthy ingredients, for feeding my family only the best, for being creative in flavors as much as in styling, for everything that goes into food from field to table. What wonderful gifts this project has given me! That is something to celebrate.