I am not my niche

Written by Daniel Gregory

March 9, 2011

Niche: a distinct segment of a market or a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person and maybe the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals.

I don’t know what niche matters to me as a fine-art photographer. I know that a huge volume of information tells me how important it is to have a unique voice and vision of the world. It is in that uniqueness that I will find my niche and define why I create fine-art. As if a niche was something that we should all strive for in life. We should all reach down into our souls and find that one little spot, that one area of the universe where we can truly express what is unique about our vision of the world.

But, what if I am more than that niche. What if my voice is louder than stadium speakers for the World Cup and quieter than a butterfly flap on a still day. What if my world is not contained within a box that I can hold in my hand or define with a few words that fit on a triple score counted as a seven in Scrabble™. What if my niche is bigger than that. What if my vision is bigger than me and the world. Maybe my niche isn’t an niche at all, but it is a place inside of me that finds the stream high in the mountains that runs to the ocean. Along the way, I become part of a creek joining hundreds of other streams as we tumble by the millions into a river. Collectively racing and cutting our way through the world drop by drop. We fall over cliffs. We mosey across the plains. We cut through solid granite. We are defined by a shared experience.

We watch everything as we go past the world, and it passes us. And, we watch it together.  Our race to the collectiveness of the ocean has one niche beginning and another one ending, we lose sight of the niches that once mattered along the way. Yet there is a fire coursing our veins,  we instinctively know we see something. Something different. We see time as a function of relationships to events, fast, slow and unrelenting. Colors lack the clarity of Pantone 368U and are more undefined as the essence of the smell of spring rain in the morning. Objects in mirrors are closer than they appear, if they appear at all.

It is in the power of the millions of melding of visions and voices that we find our uniqueness as photographers. It is the sharing of who we are that keeps us punching back at our niche. Pushing it away. Not allowing it is cover us with darkness. I scream out into the darkness: “I am not who I am. You can’t know me. I don’t know me”. I sit in the silence. The world responding around me.

I know my art is as much about that one woman on the bus who talks too loud on her cell phone as it is the leaf that falls from the highest tree in the forest.  I am my relationship to my world. My world is among billions. My art is the influence of billions. I am no longer worried about finding my niche. My world is my art.


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