Evolve. Don’t stand still. Keep advancing, pushing forward, and creating yourself anew.
“If you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.” – Bob Dylan
In modern society, we are always talking about evolving technology, evolution in biology– but how often do we talk about evolution in terms of our personal selves, evolution in terms of our own personal photography style, and evolution of our artistic vision?
Don’t be trapped in the past
I have a great reverence of the past. If it weren’t for our forefathers who came before us, we couldn’t make it where we are today.
For example, in photography, we have a great deal of thanks to give to those who innovated from the very beginning. This means giving appreciation to Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz, many other masters, and even to Oskar Barnak for inventing the modern 35mm camera, which has helped liberated millions of street photographers all around the globe (instead of having to lug around cumbersome large-format and medium-format cameras).
However I feel that we shouldn’t be satisfied with the past. We should draw on the past for inspiration, but we should be working hard to drive the genre of photography forward. Not only that, but we should constantly evolve as human beings and artists– and not be satisfied with the work we have done in the past, but to focus on the work we will do now and in the future.
One day at a time
Evolution doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, gradually. When you think of evolutionary biology, an organism doesn’t suddenly develop a different DNA in a single day, week, month, or even year. It takes decades, centuries, or sometimes even millennia for an organism to evolve.
The same thing goes for your own photography– do you expect to become a master photographer overnight, or even improve your own photographic vision and style in a single day, week, month, or even year? These things take time– and evolution tends to be gradual, not to jump in huge leaps.
Personally, I am very impatient when it comes to my own photography. I romanticize the past; romanticize old technology, and also really like my older work. But I know that to feel truly alive and to be fully-engaged with my photography is to not be satisfied with what I have already accomplished, but to continue to move forward and to continue to innovate and evolve in my own photography.
This means looking back at my old work, appreciating it, but not retiring because I am satisfied. It means drawing inspiration from the past, but using their finds to push your work forward.
So how are you going to evolve in your photography today? As for me, I am starting to re-appreciate digital photographic technology (after dedicating myself to shooting film), re-enjoying the connective properties of social media (after a social media fast), and trying to create new work.
12:19pm, April 2, 2015 / Berkeley