This morning, after a self-imposed exile from the online world, I made myself a cup of coffee, fired up my iMac and logged on to Facebook to see what I missed.
After almost four weeks I was secretly hoping for some inspiration, new images and whatever else we normally look for when we log on to our favorite social media platform.
You see, during December I took a break from social media, photography and doing what I normally do when I’m working. As good a break as it was I was quite keen to get back online to see what people have been posting, to see some new images and find inspiration.
After only a few minutes on Facebook you know what I found? Nothing.
Sure, all the regulars where there. The age old Nikon-Canon debate. Photographers asking, begging actually, for likes and comments on their images. People commenting on other peoples images imparting their wisdom. Average wildlife images which has been given a funny title just in order to be able to post something online. And then of course not to mention the standard ‘I just fed my cat’ type of posts.
But inspiration? Nope, not a helluva lot. Perhaps I was wrong in secretly hoping for something more at the beginning of the year. Something different.
It seems to me that the online world and the continuous overglorification and preoccupation with getting ‘Likes’ and comments has become the driving force behind something which I truly believe should come from a different place. A place of purpose. A place of passion.
As we head into 2013 you then also see all the resolution posts in which people get all lyrical and carried away about how they are going to improve their photography. How they aspire to be like this or that photographer.
Don’t do it.
Don’t set your goal based on other people on what other people are going to think.
That wildlife photographer posting wonderful images of leopard and lions every day? That one who is so amazing and whose work you will never match up to? He probably works at a game lodge and gets to photograph wildlife on a daily basis and you know what? He also has shitty image but you just don’t get to see them. You see, it’s a pure numbers game and the more you roll the dice the more often you will produce the goods. Pablo Picasso, arguably the most influential artist of the modern era, produced more than 50,000 works of art in his career most of which never saw the light of day. Why? They were crap. But Picasso kept on rolling the dice and by doing so, in between all the crappy art, he created eternal magic.
Posting images online everyday does not make you a good photographer. If you try you will more than likely have to start digging into those images that are not really your best just to keep your fans happy.
I suppose it’s human nature, and the idea that practise makes perfect, that leads us to a place where ‘the more I do it the better I will get’. Yes, you need to keep your photographic muscle trained and strong but there is an aspect to photography that I think a lot of us do not pay attention to. We are so driven to create the ‘perfect image’ and get more likes online that we forget to look after and nurture the most important part of the whole thing. You.
Yes, as the photographer you are what makes you special and you are what is going to make you create image that stand apart from all the noise and clutter we see online.
So, as we head into a new year of adventure, experiences and photography my advise to you, and to myself, is this.
Do not forget to focus on yourself. When you are stuck and feel like your photography is going nowhere nurture the creative spirit that is what drives it. Don’t try and force it by doing more photography and for heaven’s sake do not just post images online for the sake of posting. Rather do less photography. Read a book. Sing in the shower. Listen to new music. Spend time with family and friends. Drink good wine. Travel. Get active. Laugh. Love. Live.
More than that do not be afraid to make mistakes. Actually roll the dice and try to make mistakes because then you’ll be working and photographing without the fear of what other people are going to think. You’ll be trying new things on the edge of creativity and without any expectations you’ll be surprised what you come up with in this wonderful headspace.
I have a lot to be grateful for and am looking forward to a glorious year filled with adventure, photography and, yes, mistakes and wish you the same. I look forward to seeing your mistakes and remember, don’t be afraid to roll the dice!
The image of the top, of a herd of buffalo walking into an African sunrise, is a wallpaper you can download for free to get your 2013 off to a nice visual start.
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt[divider scroll_text=”Go to Top”]