I have been asked so many times for some guidance on how others can more clearly express their own personal voice…. or express more clearly the feeling or idea that they wanted to through their images.
The first step is to own the word “I”.
I asked the question to someone who asked me “How could I make this image better?”. I replied…..”What did you feel as the sun was setting?” He replied…. “…Well.. you would feel peaceful…” Actually….. I may NOT feel peaceful. The person said to me ..”YOU would feel peaceful.” I didn’t ask him what I would feel….. I asked him what HE felt.
This person did not start the sentence with “I felt…. ” This person did not “OWN” his own personal response. I came come to realise that when I personally use the pronoun for a ‘collective’ response to something; eg WE, YOU, US, ONE – I detach myself from owning something myself.
On the news the other day a lady was interviewed after a car plouged into a shop beside where she was sitting. She was asked.. “What was it like to be sitting there having a runaway car just miss you by a few meters?” to which she replied…. “You know….You would feel panic striken and then you would feel lucky that the car missed you…. You know……” Well..actually I don’t know… and she didn’t answer the question at all about what it was like for her.
The expression “You know” when I think about it is rediculous, and when I catch myself saying it, I realise I am not truly expressing who I am, and I am hiding behind words which provide cover and an excuse for me to not access my feelings and express them.
This lady did not bring her experience and share it from her own personal voice. She deferred to someone else….. YOU… the collective of somewhere external to herself. This may have been her safety net…. so she didn’t have to ‘go there’ within herself.
Regardless of how much shock she was still in – this is a clear example of how saying WE, YOU, US – instead of the personal pronoun “I” actually not only prevents a person from truly acessing one’s feelings and expressing one’s personal voice…. but also prevents others from experiencing, sharing, supporting, and getting to know another person.
I don’t know how this woman felt about her experience… All she said was that “You know..” (when I didn’t know)… and made an assumption by telling the reporter that “YOU would feel panic sticken”… nothing about how she actually felt. She did not OWN her own feelings or expression.
I have found that to share my own personal voice … not only through my photographs, but in my life as well… it is important for me to OWN my experience and expression of it. I am conscious and aware of using the word “I” as a powerful tool for self knowledge and expression.
Just try this little exercise to feel the power of the word “I”. Say to someone …. “Love you”…….. and now say… “I love you”. Can you feel the difference? For me, when the “I” is added – it seems for me to have more strength and power. It seems watered down just saying ….. “Love you”…. as has become an accepted way of speaking and acknowledging Love for another. I hear “Love you” all the time…and it is wonderful, because it seems to be more accepted to be able to express our love for one another in that way – but for me, I have realised that I want to own more fully my expression and not water it down by removing the “I” …. so I now say “I love you”… rather than the ‘generic’ “love you” which detaches ME from my expression.
As I become more aware of ME… and owning my own feelings, emotional response and expression….. I can then have a greater ability to then express that through my photographs and artwork… and in my life. If I firstly don’t “own” these things.,.. what hope do I have of expressing my own personal voice? Zip !
… So for those who are struggling with expressing your personal voice through your work, I have shared above my experience in learning the importance of ‘owning’ the word “I”.
I hope that will be of some benefit to you so that your life may be more enriched with experiences and expression which is more meaningful, honest and fulfilling.