We’ve all heard the question posed in the age of social media, instant gratification via likes/shares/followers, and complete saturation of new content… “If you couldn’t share your photography(or any art really) online, via social media or wherever else, would you still do it?”
Most photographers will give a quick YES to that answer because they are “so passionate about their art”… sadly though, for a large majority they’ve convinced themselves of their answer but if push came to shove their real response would be no. They just don’t realize it or they are embarrassed to admit it.
I get it and have been there myself.
For me I think it boiled down to the fact that I felt like I was doing something wrong if I admitted I was hoping for some sort of peer recognition in those times of my life. In reality, there is actually nothing wrong with wanting to share your art and, hopefully, finding an audience of some sort that enjoys what you do.
Lately though I’ve discovered something about myself. I’ve looked at blank posts time and time again here as I’ve felt like I “should be sharing” the new photographs I’ve been making. I’d stare at the blank page, look through the galleries of photos on my hard drive, and try to figure out some sort of blog post that would “have meaning” or “be well received”. Same holds true for my main Instagram account.
The feeling of “needing” to post something, anything, was strong. Yet when I sat down to actually do it, nothing felt “good enough”. So I’d end up closing the page, shutting down the app, walking away from the idea of needing to post because in the end nothing seemed important enough.
Then I was convinced to take part in the annual Inktober challenge, in which you make an ink drawing every day for the month of October, then post it to whatever social media with the corresponding hashtags for that day’s prompt.
I can’t draw, let me be clear. I’ve always wanted to learn, but always ended up SO frustrated because I couldn’t make things look how I envisioned them in my mind. Anyways, that’s besides the point.
What happened was that I found myself fully engrossed in a totally different type of art and while I was posting the photos of my drawings every day, I began to realize that I really just enjoyed the process of sitting down and making something. Same with a lot of the projects I’ve been working on around the house, getting sucked in and not thinking if it was “good enough” to share online was a blessing. I just let myself get fully engaged with the process of creating and kind of let the social media side go by unnoticed.
Today, as I sat here thinking I really should share some photos or make some kind of post online, I realized that while I haven’t been able to get out creating a ton of photographs the last few months, I HAD created quite a few that I am proud of.
That’s when that old question popped in my head again “If I couldn’t share the photos online/on social media, would I still create them?”
As I thought about it a bit ago I realized that somewhere along the way, I had truly answered that question for myself. I hadn’t even realized it happening, yet happen it did.
I haven’t been posting here or via my social media accounts with any great regularity recently because I’ve been lost in the enjoyment of just MAKING new work. I don’t think I really care if anyone ever sees it, not sure I’ll look at it too much either. It was just the act of making the photographs, of experiencing the world around me, of being able to capture those brief moments in time for my own personal memory box, that really and truly called me.
The problem is that I don’t know where that leaves things like this site?
I can’t see it going away, I feel like I’ve put too much work into it over the years and if nothing else it serves as it’s own form of “memory lane” archives for my journey and growth as a photographer and creative.
Looking forward though, I have no idea what my goal is here? What, IF, I’m trying to accomplish anything in particular.
And I’m not going to worry about it.
Things will happen… or they won’t. For now I’m just going to do like I always do and ride the tide as I follow my gut instinct. Even when that gut instinct is to just enjoy creating work and not worry about the rat race of trying to “get recognition” in this online world we find ourselves.
Especially when it comes to social media. For now, I’ve largely lost my taste for trying to “build a huge Instagram following” or “get noticed by XYZ person on social media that I look up to”.
For now I’m content with just making the work. I’ll share if I feel like sharing or if some new idea presents itself that pushes me to get more vocal publicly. Otherwise, I’m okay with answering YES to that big question because… well because it’s how I’m choosing to operate lately and I have to say, it’s starting to feel like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.