What seems most difficult for us photographers?
Discovering the motivation to make new photos.
Why do we lack motivation to make new photos?
Why is social media so bad?
Social media is bad because you get suckered into comparing yourself and your photography with that of others. And I think I figured it out:
Good to discover inspiration NOT from your contemporaries, but from the dead masters who have come before you.
But this is also the danger: Sometimes we fall into “photographic nihilism“: the thought that all these photographers who have come before me have already done it better than me, and therefore there is no point or purpose for me to attempt it. “I might as well give up before I get started”.
As a beginner, you must be AS IGNORANT as humanly possible. I didn’t start learning about the photography masters until perhaps 2-3 years after I started photography, and this was good.
Why? Because I felt ALL the photos I created were totally original! This naiveté was fantastic, as it kept me motivated to keep on going!
How do children play?
Imagine: a child at the park, trying to play at the jungle gym. Would you encourage them to read a book on techniques of “proper form” in jungle gymming? OF COURSE NOT! This is insane. You let the kid play! And for children playing is learning.
When a child plays, a child is experimenting — figuring out for themselves what works and what doesn’t work. Trial and error done in a fun and non-boring way. For photography, refer to ‘My first photography book‘.
When do we get ENCOURAGED by masters by masters who have come before us, and when do we become DISCOURAGED from the masters who came before us?
This is huge:
Sometimes the masters can DISCOURAGE us; whereas in other circumstances, the masters can ENCOURAGE us. How do we know which way the needle goes?
I think it ultimately comes to your ego.
For example, I have an insanely huge ego. Some people tend to bow down before the masters, whereas I see them as my equals.
For example, a lot of people venerate Henri Cartier-Bresson as some sort of Demi-god or all-knowing photographer. I see him as a good inspiration and role model, yet I see him more as an equal. Sometimes I actually see him as BELOW me. Why? He gave up photography. Also he seemed in some ways to be extremely self-conscious, and also had self-esteem issues (I think he had an inferiority bias compared to his famous painter friends). Ultimately even HCB felt:
Photography can never become as good as painting.
Why? Because Henri Cartier-Bresson was a “closet painter”. He ultimately wanted to be a painter, but discovered he was actually a far better photographer. And perhaps because his era didn’t see photography as legitimate as painting, he always felt lower.
Anyways, what I mean to say is this:
Put yourself on a pedestal AS EQUAL to the masters of the past, not as below them.
So how do we get more motivation to go out and shoot new photos?
Very practical ideas:
- Buy RICOH GR III and always have it around your neck when you’re out and about (ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II), or use RICOH GR III without a strap and just keep it in your front pocket at all times. Shoot high-contrast JPEG black and white mode (or for color, positive film JPEG mode), and keep your camera on “P” (program) mode. Simply shoot whenever you find anything interesting to you.
- Don’t trap yourself in a photo genre: All photos are good photos. Shoot family photos, landscape photos, flower photos, food photos, street photos, selfies, abstract photos, etc. Increase your optionality in photography; all subjects are good and legitimate.
- Stop uploading photos to social media (Instagram/Facebook)– this will simply discourage you. If you want real feedback on your photos, upload them to arsbeta.com instead.
- If you want a place to publish your photos, publish them to your own website. A simple provider is bluehost.com, and install wordpress.org.
- When looking at the photos of the masters, ask yourself: “How can I become BETTER than them, and make BETTER photos than them?”
Never stop shooting!
HAPTIC: Creative tools to empower you: