On Saturday I spent the day in the Pilanesberg National Park.
Yes it was about wildlife and nature photography but it was different.
It was photography in it’s purest form, untarnished by the need for constant praise and the underlying need to try and be better.
The workshops attendees who joined Chad Wright, Penny and myself were all between 16 and 18 years old.
Every frame was filled with wonder and excitement and the joy, from these young photographers, came from the act of creation rather than what anybody else thought of their images.
When was the last time you photographed like that?
Not once, during the entire day, did we discuss or worry about overly complicated processing tips and tricks or what the best platform is to share your images. Facebook likes and comments did not get a mention and the excitement that these youngsters had when showing us their images was more than great to see – it was invigorating.
Looking at these young photographers and the purity in the way they approached their photography made me think back of the days when I started my own photographic journey.
In today’s world of social media and the constant need for feedback, it is just so easy to let the magic and mystery of photography fade into the background only to be replaced by the fear, and yes it is fear, of people not liking your work or the silent need for positive feedback. Photography should be about seeing the world around you in a different way. About capturing what you see because it caught your attention in the first place.
There are way too many photographers that load an image to a platform like Facebook or 500px and then keep on checking and rechecking to see how many likes or comments the image has received. I’ve even seen it on photo safari where some people post an image from camp and then keep on checking and rechecking the activity on their phones – sometimes getting increasingly upset that no one else likes their image – this while being out in the field with a camera supposedly doing what they love.
Should we as photographers not be more worried about the act of creation, about Henry Cartier Bresson’s decisive moment, rather than how to get people to see our work?
Should we not be more focused on unadulterated photography, like the kind I saw this past weekend, rather than who has the most fans, the newest post-processing technique or how quickly an image can get to the front page of 500px?
Surely I can not be the only one that feels like this?
My photographic experience in the Pilanesberg this last weekend reminded me of what it can be like to photograph purely for the love of photography.
To look at the world around us through the eyes of a child, without the filters of ego and performance.
To listen to our own creative voice rather than be confused by the cacophony of voices out there.
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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