Finding your destination while you’re on your way

When I received my first digital camera as a Christmas gift in 1999, I had no idea about the journey I was starting. I’d always loved photography; I developed my own black and white prints at a summer day camp in grade school, and my mom loves to remind me that she captured my first steps on film because I was trying to grab the camera out of her hand. But digital was what made my interest explode. I spent years traveling around Maine and capturing the natural beauty of the state. In college I discovered the rush of capturing performances – concerts, dance, and theatre – and I’ve been fortunate enough to have full access to shoot great events like the American Folk Festival and Live and Dance Strong.

My next adventure

These past couple of months have been transformative for me; I’ve grown as a person, and I’ve grown as a photographer. And portraiture has started to call my name.

I have a lot of thoughts about many kinds of portraits, and I don’t think I’ll ever be what many people consider to be a typical portrait photographer. A few friends of mine have given me strange looks when I say I’m not interested in taking photos of babies or doing senior portraits for high schoolers right now. Those kinds of portraits may follow down the road, but for now I want to focus on capturing the beauty of many of the friends and others I’ve been lucky to know over the years.

A project I’ve been planning all along

There’s one project in particular that I’m excited to begin. Little did I know that I’ve been working on it for years.

One of my absolute favorite hobbies is talking with people about what they love to do. I love one-on-one conversations about passions with people I know in person, and whenever I have the chance, I enjoy meeting and talking with people face-to-face or online about their interests. I’ve covered a strange blend of these passions over the years, ranging from running to music to bodybuilding to contortion to dance. What drives someone to spend so much time on one talent or skill? In every case, I’ve noticed these passionate people have one trait in common: they’re never satisified. They want to be better. That inspires me.

While I was thinking about how I wanted to approach portraiture, I realized that I could tap into all of the connections and friendships I’d built. I realized I could extend that love of learning about passions into a photographic space. That’s when it all came together, and I decided that my main portraiture project will be a study of the passions people have and what drives them to be their best. I want to show the diversity of skill that the people we see every day hold.

The thought alone of working on this project excites me. I’m building a list of shots I want to take, and I hope to start publishing photos soon.

Love

I’m extremely fortunate to have many people in my life who have supported my own passion – photography – over the years. They’ve pushed me to be better. I’ve frustrated many of them by being conservative about my goals and process, but their encouragement has led me to grow into the person I am today. Photography has changed my life for the better, and for that I thank everyone who has supported my journey. And it’s just beginning.

February 21, 2013 at 10:13 am
Hi! I'm Justin Russell. I'm a proud Mainer living in the Bangor area. Thanks for visiting! I'd love to hear your thoughts about this post in the comments below. If you'd like to stay in touch, you can subscribe to this blog's RSS feed or follow me at @justinrussell on Twitter.

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