Photography Classes Lesson - Notes: How Much Will You Risk For Self Expression?

"I don't fear losing, the only thing I fear is not trusting my instinct. I know Ryu is not a strong character, if I wanted to win i could pick another character. I express myself during fighting and with Ryu I can fully express myself." 
- Daigo Umehara

Hello, everyone. I got a confession to make. Photography isn't my only true passion. I also love video game and the gaming community, especially Fighting game genres. Fighting game requires tactics like playing chess only in real time with a hair trigger twitchy reactions to execute counter and offensive moves. When played at the highest form of skill, few player's self expression comes out above the noise of best flow-chart tactics and top tier game characters. Hang with me for a minute, because I will tie fighting games to photography.

The road less traveled.

This past weekend, one of the world's largest gaming event, EVO2013, took place in Las Vegas that attracted the world's top players.

Imagine: Once a year, top killers, online warriors, and aspiring players trained in Street Fighter, Tekken, KoF around the world gathered to see how they fare against the each other in a double elimination tournament. This is the Super Bowl of fighting game community.

I couldn't attend this year and haven't been attending since I took on photography full time, but I followed it closely and watch the tournament streamed live every year. For years now, the two players I followed closely are Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong. These two players had won numerous if not placed top 8, year after year among sea of top players.

As the years gone by, new tactics and techniques have been discovered and become the most dominating tactics over the tournament. Players either learn to adapt quickly and survive the onslaught of these new techniques or learn from their losses and train against or around it next year. What's the most noticeable trait about Daigo and Justin is that they kept using the same characters year after year, when clearly the newest technique or character is dominating the scene.

Would you risk everything for self-expression or hit the 'Easy' button?

When Daigo was asked, why does he always sticks to the same character? His answer was profound: "I am beyond winning." The character Ryu expresses him and his play style more truly. Same thing happened with Justin. The characters he chose were not cut out to fight his opponent, but he managed to stick to it, even through self-doubt, and created one of the EVO's greatest moment of comebacks. That's what stuck out. They didn't win the tournament this year, but the message is very striking and very different. It's about doing it their way, and express their gameplay truly and wholly. Even if they don't say it from their own mouths, their game play definitely sung it.

Justin Wong vs Chris G created the best EVO 2013 moment by sticking to his self expression, even in the moment of hesitation around 5 min into the video. When asked why he hesitated in picking new characters that can counter his opponent he answered "I hesitated because I didn't want to regret the decision".

Daigo vs Infiltration; Daigo risk his chance of winning for self expression.

How important is self expression to you? How much will you risk?

Self expression is not the latest fad or trending style or filter. It's nice to know them and know how to apply them, but don't lose yourself and your style in fads. As a photographer, we can quickly lose ourselves in getting the best equipments and applying the latest Instagram filters. There are so many distractions, and new one comes out every day. One thing that will make you stand out is you, your style.

This leads back to my photography in still-life. I had photographed many things and genres. The genres that my peers and contemporaries say to me is that my photography in still-life "feels like I enjoy and love what I shoot." Many times, and from different circles my work stood out to them because I stuck to my genres and express my style. I may not be the best still-life photographer, but I am the best at expressing myself through my still-life photography.

Like in fighting games, there are many characters to choose. Same in photography, there are many genres to shoot. Learn everything, then specialize in one. Discover yourself and express your style through that one genres in photography. Expose yourself truly.

If you read this far, thank you! Stay with me, subscribed, bookmark, and let's make beautiful photographs together for the world.

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