Kyoto man with square box, walking. 2018

Yes, if You’re a Photographer, You Are an Artist!

Kyoto man with square box, walking. 2018

Dear friend, as a word of encouragement and truth: if you’re a photographer you are an artist!

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Why are photographers artists?

Woman with orange kyoto station

This is my reasoning:

  1. There are different reasons why people make photos. Some people make photos to document their day-to-day life, some people photograph because they want to remember precious memories (the camera aids their poor memory, like myself), and some people make photos as painting; you’re making graphic, visual images, which bring your heart and soul delight!
  2. Everyone who likes to make stuff is an artist. Every child is born an artist, but the difficulty is staying an artist as you get older (Picasso). Therefore, ignore the snobby insecure folks who put artists in an ivory tower (or worse, critics who are insecure artists who feel better about themselves by putting down others). If you like to make photos as an aesthetic and artistic pursuit, you are BOTH an artist and photographer!
  3. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” art. For me, I only categorize art as “genuine” or “ingenuine”; and I’m only able to judge myself and my own art at the end of the day. For example, most people when they see Picasso’s Cubism, they will probably call it “childlike” and therefore “bad”. Therefore as a lesson, realize that it is impossible to please 100% of people out there. The most important person to please is yourself. If you make photos you like, you’re a good photographer.

Happiness as an artist-photographer

Abstract woman with orange coat kyoto station

For myself, here are some truths I’ve learned about myself regarding happiness, art, photography, and life:

  1. The more I produce and make photos, words, videos, etc, the happier I am. I also produce more when I’m having fun. I have fun when I challenge myself, and I try out new approaches and create new concepts for myself. I’m happiest also when I make stuff that brings a smile to my face.
  2. I still get a lot of happiness and joy when I share my work with others. However, I shouldn’t make that my sole criteria for my happiness. My personal rule is this: if I can create something and share it and positively influence, empower, or bring joy to at least 1 other human being on planet earth, I’ve done my job as an artist.
  3. Success shouldn’t be measured via the opinions of others (while you’re still alive, or even dead). Vincent van Gogh didn’t sell a single painting in his life, but inspires millions of people today. Did anything change about his art? No, but society did. Therefore, sometimes as artists, we fail to build recognition for ourselves and our artwork because society isn’t ready for us yet, or we were born at the wrong time. But it doesn’t matter; as long as we can feed ourselves and pay rent, and as long as we can keep making our art until we die, we should die satisfied.

Ignore others and keep shooting!

High perspective shot, with the Lumix LX100 (24mm) in the air, using the LCD screen to frame, and pointing the camera downwards.

Andy Warhol once said something like,

Don’t care whether others think about your art, or judge it as good or bad. While they’re busy judging your work, keep making new art!

I wholly agree. It is a waste of time, energy and our mental power to argue on whether photography is art or not. We should just ignore the haters, nay-sayers, trolls, and sad lonely people who feel the need to tear down others because of their own insecurities. We should just stay centered and focused on ourselves, our own art, and our own happiness.

man with mask ricoh sunset light

Make photos because it delights your soul, make photos because it helps you engage more with the real world, make photos because it makes your heart sing and feet dance! Never stop making photos, and never lose your child-like naiveté.

Have fun and just shoot!

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