Sometimes it is hard for me to put my finger on exactly what I want to get out of this journey - how far do I want to go, how dedicated do I want or need to be, perhaps even, how dedicated is too much and how do I know if I want it to take over my life?
I find myself flipping through Flickr - photostream to photostream, looking at images that intrigue me, analyzing why. What is it that I like? Is it the composition, the color, the tone, the texture, the subject? There are so many that are trite, and yet so many that are lasting, and sometimes the difference must be very slight. In fact, sometimes I think the differences is merely my own cynicism growing as I look at all these photographs.
I find myself questioning quality - if I borrow someone's "style", or compose a picture of my own after something I saw in someone else's portfolio, I find I discount it in my mind. While I look at other work for inspiration, then I irrationally eliminate it from what I feel is ok to use it for...
I see explanations from people of using someone's specific presets in their photo processing application and I wonder, if I use something someone else came up with to make my photo look a certain way, is that quality? Is that authentic? Isn't it just another form of copying something I didn't do? If I record my voice and make it sound like Mariah Carey, is that still me?
And I suppose somewhere deep inside it would be me, whether I sound fakely like Mariah Carey or my photos look like copies of Soup and Sunday's photo stream, I will have learned something in the process, and made a compelling photograph.
How much originality does artistry really require, and in the process of learning, what difference should that make at all? The devil on that shoulder - I think she speaks with the voice of my mother; I cannot characterize the voice on my other shoulder, perhaps because it is generally too quiet. Perhaps that voice is my own.