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On Instagram, fantasy land and the lure of big audiences.
It's so wildly easy to go astray when all the world is aligned against nuance, depth and anything requiring focus.
Like growing as a person. or, hell, even growing as an artist.
How did we get here?
Here being: Where "Artists" work for likes. Where everyone is playing on the same terms, most of which are limiting terms--such as, no nudity, must be compelling at 3" in size, must be-Lord forgive me-Advertising friendly. Must compel immediate engagement, lest no engagement should follow or worse still engagement be lost entirely.
Here being: Artists working for mega tech companies to lure half bored but well trained viewers to sit through endless scrolls of ads.
How'd I ever end up here.
We all want to think we're mavericks or trailblazers and I'm suddenly self conscious about my words but I do buck at the slightest feel of mis-applied control. it's reactive and not actually something I'm proud of. Also, fwiw, not a great way to avoid tickets where a cop might've had some latitude about giving you a break.
My desire to do exactly opposite of what I'm told softened with age. with experience. with tiredness. perhaps too has our overall ability to be non-compliant. isn't that what all these freedom convoy's are really about. just being non-compliant on principal however far from being rational non-compliance it wanders?
Has our general compliance has increased as socials took hold or simply revealed that most folks generally will and want to comply. I can observe in my self that my submission charts nicely with the rise of the potential of massive audiences for my work (carrot ever so dangles) and all the "rules" and hoops one must navigate to stay onside with the tech masters and also with age and seeing my creative window slowly closing--that's a real pressure.
So how then does this have anything to do with photography?
I think sometimes people who dwell in the arts forget why they dwell. why they make things. what the goals actually are and it's very easy to go from what the hell am I doing out here in the middle of this tornadic storm to could this be the shot that goes super viral and leads to brand deals so I can afford that next camera and so on. The details vary but the theme is archetype.
The shift is subtle unlike most things existing in the world today. from what is the true color of a half stop difference in a shadow or why do shadows even exist to why is Peter McKinnon selling thousands of over baked prints and I'm not easily slides into: I need to hit some generic tourist spots like everyone else.
but like, a million million times over.
And one day you wake up and you're spending more time nursing the tech gods wishes and keeping your grid looking fresh with the same boring work over and over and suddenly there isn't enough motivation to go round.
that's how we get here.
but how do we get from here to pretty much anywhere else. somewhere that might support experimentation, deeper analysis, slowing down to really feel things, not looking identical to every other shot of moraine lake? how do we get to being imperfect and making mistakes and wandering to and fro like a fool while you learn and explore? how do we give up on the idea that maybe a huge audience and all the things that come with that is just around the corner if we can flip the right sliders in the right order at the right time.
I've thought very hard for 6 months on this very question and my answer is you can't live in the fantasy and in reality at the same time. you have to pick.
pick making small work for a small audience that gets you and gets it, or even no audience but you get it, or maybe even you don't but you enjoy trying to figure it out or pick making bland work for people who are half paying attention and hoping the algorithm decides you're the next big ticket to them selling ads.
oh and the bots, which btw, are most your audience don't really count as audience.
it's with this realization that I first was lied to purely to lure me into social and then somewhere along the way began lying to myself much more vigorously than they ever did that i decided I want the hard cold reality of 5 passionate followers who respect the work I put in and feel what I'm doing over whatever made up number might be possible (but in reality we all know isn't possible).
I pick cold, empty and alone with our failings and the incontrovertible truth of how massively not interesting our work really is to most. that's the spot I'm choosing because as painful as seeing my life's work ignored is, it's less painful than wasting the life i have left selling ads for some of the shittiest humans every created.
That's what this is. me saying good bye to the fantasy. allowing myself to do whatever I want and not giving a shit if people like it or if it's appropriate to some random subset of the world--again, btw, it never is, and never will be no matter what you do.
If you want to come along for the ride, feel free to sub. the free one will get you more than you probably want. If you want to throw a few dollars and get a shot at the monthly print giveaways, or just show your support, well, that's just fine.
whilst I find my feet I may just recreate what I used to love on tumblr which was going out shooting and sharing the best work with you as I do.
I do want to branch out and write more, explore more ideas and expand on what I think about, how i work, but I cannot and will not live in the fantasy (another!) that i'm suddenly going to have all the free time in the world to do these things. If we grow over time and it makes sense, anything is possible but I'm going to try to be measured and at it's core this is a way to share my work with people who like my work.
so yeah. here we go.
So you made it. Welcome, and thank you.