Make pictures for yourself. Make pictures that bring you joy in life.
Who is your real audience?
Make pictures of your loved ones. Make self-portraits of yourself, to remember your own mortality.
Make pictures that bring joy to your life. Make pictures that when you look at your own pictures, you smile.
Don’t seek to make “clever” or “good” pictures that you hope will impress or please others. No. Only make pictures which you think are good. Never let yourself share pictures that you don’t like… hoping that others will like it.
Do your pictures get better or worse over time?
My only criterion whether a picture is “good” or not is this:
How many times you are willing to look at your own picture without getting bored, or feeling disgusted.
For example, I only know how much I like a picture depending on how many times I like to look at it. For me, the more I look at the pictures of Josef Koudelka and Richard Avedon, the more I like them.
For coffee, the more fruity, bright, and light-roasted acidic espresso I drink, the more I like it.
I know Cindy is my true soulmate because the more time I spend with her, the more I enjoy her company, our intellectual discourse, and our fellow silliness.
I don’t like that much music, books, philosophy, film, or literature. But, the few authors and artists I like… I repeat looking at their art, I repeat listening to their music, and I repeat digesting their ideas.
Duration is key.
The only test of whether art is good or not:
Does it get better or worse over time?
Great art is like a good bottle of wine… the longer you let it mature, the better it gets. Or like fermentation with good kimchi— the longer you let it ferment, the better it tastes (of course, to a certain limit… and also hoping that you have a separate kimchi refrigerator— yes, that does exist).
The solitary artist and photographer
Let’s assume you’re going to live to be 100 years old.
Don’t you want to dedicate your life making art that you yourself like?
If you were the last human being on earth, or a solitary human being on a spaceship— would you still make art? I would. And if I were my only audience, I would certainly make art and pictures which impressed me, and brought me joy.
Being a selfish artist is good.
Essentially I’m encouraging you to become a more selfish, and a more self-centered artist. Yes, in a positive way.
Too much of modern society tells us to be selfish or self-centered is evil. That’s wrong.
The more you can please yourself, the more you will end up pleasing others.
Therefore my philosophy is this:
The more selfish you can be, the more selfless you can be.
As a Christian, it is my duty to help the weak, the poor, and those less fortunate than myself. I grew up broke as fuck, and I still remember, my mom not being able to afford to spend $300 to fix the tires or the brakes on our old Nissan Maxima— driving in fear of the cops pulling us over, or perhaps even getting into a fatal car accident when it would start raining.
Do you live to photograph, or photograph to live?
The best part of photography and art: pictures are the elixir of our soul. Great pictures give us encouragement to life, to become something greater, and for us to share that joy with others. For me, photography motivates me to LIVE MORE, EXPLORE MORE, and life with more gratitude, appreciation, and joy.
You cannot empower others, unless you first empower yourself.
BE STRONG and CREATIVE EVERY DAY!