Midnight Thoughts on a Tuesday
I take pride in not pressing the shutter just to press it. That doesn’t mean there weren’t a really high number of bad photos in the beginning. On one of my earliest tries, I shot 2000 photos in a week in Barcelona. They mostly sucked. But each one was still a deliberate action. I was learning by doing, while still trying to capture some memories of my first trip overseas. So the net result was a lot of useless photos. I now realize there are plenty of times where rapid firing the shutter is necessary and it doesn't make you a bad photographer. A fast moving object. Lifestyle shoots. Trying to make sure you get the absolute best of someone’s candid facial expression. I use these techniques when necessary but I still take a lot of pride in shooting less. And posting less.
Social media has changed the way we approach our creative output. It's become about producing the most content, not necessarily the best content. I fall victim to it, trying to nudge my follower count over 1200 from 1198. Thinking that a steady flow of half decent images will trick the algorithm into being discovered by 2 new random people. I usually end up deleting those posts a week later.
This kind of content production represents our entire culture. Following algorithmic cues to do what we think is best for someone else’s purpose. It’s exactly the same as working 40+ hours a week for Big Generic Corporation. Robotically hitting the alarm, embarking on your commute, answering emails until dinner, and firing up those nightly tv show eps until you fall asleep, rinse and repeat.
Shooting with intention is a personal workflow preference I use for photography. It’s also a metaphor for a larger idea.
I've noticed my instagram posts get less and less engagement over time. And I think its likely because I don't pander to the algorithm, or post as frequently as I used to. Overall, I'm not a social media fanatic, but I keep Instagram around as it's essentially an abridged photo journal. And it also serves as a way to find new opportunities and connections for work. But if I'm not getting a certain level of visibility, is it really serving this purpose anymore? Maybe I've begun to rethink my connection to it, and that coincides with fixing this website up and beginning to write these blogs. In my own space, where I don't expect views or likes anyway, therefore, I can do whatever I feel like and not answer to anybody.
I’m certainly happy for those that have enough followers to make a living off of instagram. Or can indirectly acquire more work opportunities because of their high visibility. I think many of them worked really hard and I applaud the foresight they had to get started early and build that following. I learned photography from one of them, and I will always be grateful for that. But as the platform has grown, so has the garbage and waste that comes along from everyone else trying to live the same story as the OG influencers. If you are pushing content like a mindless salesman pushes product, you’re feeding into a machine of wasted and misguided energy. You should be doing your best work and putting that forth, versus pandering to what you think the algorithm rewards. They keep changing it on you anyway.
So even though I don't post as much, I still want your likes. I want them because you know that I did it it on purpose. And that there’s something to the image, the technique I tried, or the location I was in. Maybe I want you to read the perfect caption I finally found for something I shot a long time ago. Instagram was a big influence for me and so I can't knock it too much if it serves that purpose for others. I downloaded the app and tried to capture a scene within the confines of a 1080x1080 square. And I thought it was a fun and interesting to constrain yourself in that way. But after I graduated to an entry level Nikon later that year, I unleashed a whole new potential by getting out of that 1080x1080 square. I knew I would be really good at this whole photography thing eventually. Because thats what I intended to do.