Pessimistic Photography

Can we see optimism in pessimistic photos? I think so!

This is the strange thing:

I’ve always been drawn to photographing more dark, pessimistic photos–yet, I’m a very optimistic person!

Which makes me wonder:

Do optimistic people photograph pessimistic photos?

Life is only enjoyable with struggles and difficulties

I believe life has no savour or delight without bitterness and difficulty.

For myself, a “comfortable” life in which I never had the opportunity to overcome, to challenge myself, and to fight difficulties would be my hell.

Empathetic photography

To feel empathy for another human being means to feel the feelings of another person. Whenever I photograph another whom I perceive to be suffering or experiencing difficulty, I feel for them. Yet at the same time, I don’t “pity” them.

Compassion in photography

Empathy and compassion sound like the same thing, but they’re different.

Compassion literally means to feel the pain of another (com+passion), which means (with+pain).

It’s difficult for me to literally feel the pain of another person when I’m photographing them, because I’m not suffering like them. I feel empathy for them, but I’m not certain that I feel compassion for them.


Even though my photos might look and feel pessimistic, they’re ultimate optimistic. Why?

I believe that enough hard work, hustle, and resourcefulness can change the fate of a human being. This is the ultimate optimism, because it says we have free will. We have the will to put forth more effort and hard work.

We can control how hard we work. We can’t control the results of our work, but the formula is simple:

The harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed.

Why make photos?

I believe that every photographer has a personal philosophy behind their photography.

Every photographer is an individual. Every individual has a personal philosophy on how they see the world.

Most people are either optimistic or pessimistic. There are different degrees of optimism or pessimism, but I believe that all individuals are either ultimately optimists or pessimists.

Which are you? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? And do your photos ultimately reveal your personal philosophy?

Why be optimistic or pessimistic?

For myself, I think all pessimism comes from weakness. A stronger philosophy to live life is optimism.

I’m reading a lot of Nietzsche, and this is his theory:

Tragedy teaches us that regardless of how painful and shitty life is, it is still beautiful and worth living!

Thus when I shoot street photos, I see a lot of shit in modern society I hate. I hate inequality, I hate racism, sexism, classicism, etc. Yet– I still have hope! I have hope that we can change society for the better– and I also do believe that as photographers, we have the ability to change the world.

Your camera is stronger than the sword, my lord. Make photos that pierce injustice in society, in the knowledge that you can change the minds and souls of your viewers.


Your photos can change the world. You have great strength as a photographer. Don’t ever talk down on yourself as a photographer.


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