Photographing for a Different Audience
Photography is my life's passion. It drives me, inspires me, and, occasionally, requires me to climb a dilapidated wood ladder behind the center field billboards of a minor league stadium in the middle of the 5th inning of a professional game. Needless to say, working behind a camera and producing photographs that are personally fulfilling brings me joy. However, sometimes that can be an issue.
Like most art forms, photography is subjective. It is the photographer's job to interpret the scene in front of them and decide the best way to tell the story of the moment. While this often leads to interesting and distinctive personal styles, and those tend to be celebrated as one of the greatest things about the art, there are situations in which personal vision must take a backseat to carefully pre-planned execution. I learned this first hand as this semester's Point Pleasant Photographer.
As the Point Pleasant Photographer, I was tasked with capturing the events, emotions, and people of Point Pleasant in various settings and atmospheres- two examples being the Point Pleasant High School basketball game against Wahama and the Point Pleasant Brand Launch. Each of these required a distinct approach to photographing, and each called upon different photographic skill sets I've spent years developing. This was no surprise. What did catch me off guard, however, was the realization that I wasn't photographing for me.
Photographing for BrandJRNY was one of the first times that I had to change what I shot to fit a pre-set plan created by someone else. I could still use my own unique vision, but I needed to couple that with the hours of strategic planning done by the Brand Point Pleasant team. Instead of photographing what looked coolest to me, I had to focus my shutter on the moments that best aligned with the Point Pleasant brand. At the PPHS basketball game, for example, that meant focusing less on the game action and more on the Point Pleasant residents enjoying a Friday night with their community. The photos needed to fit in with the greater social and digital plan.
Like many things in media, photographing for a purpose is all about knowing your target audience. While usually, I'm photographing WVU sporting events to make athletes look heroic to a passionate fanbase, at the PPHS basketball game, I needed to show families having fun. The photos were less epic and more about community, simply because that is what worked better for the target audience.
In my (slightly biased) opinion, photography is one of the world's greatest art forms. Its ability to tell stories and give people an insight into the lives, experiences, and passions of others is unmatched in the art world. Sometimes, however, it's important to slow down on personal vision and accept the importance of photographing for another purpose. Working as the Point Pleasant Photographer showed me that, and I will forever be grateful.
My name is Corbin Mills and I’m the Point Pleasant photographer for the Spring 2020 semester. On the rare occasion you catch me without my camera in hand I’ll probably be on Twitter evangelizing about the superiority of New Jersey pizza and bagels. Follow me through our Brand Journey- @corbinmills18.