When starting a project I become really engrossed in the idea and obsess with it and then I become a little too self-reflective and start doubting myself and the idea. As a creative we need to be challenged as these obstacles strengthen our ideas and the process. We also need a little encouragement too.
I was out the other day with a friend and he commented on my work, it is someone I respect so the feedback was greatly appreciated. He loved the Expired Series but did not really care for the Street Portraits or Couple Series. I asked why and he said photographing people and couples, well that has been done before and really did not peak my interest.
Needless to say I have been reflecting on this feedback and I happen to agree with him, this has been done before. This also got me thinking about why I photograph at all, what is the point? Especially in this age of social media and Instagram, really what is the point?
My wife and I have our house up for sale and we are moving to a smaller, much smaller, condo downtown. We live just outside the city and rely on a car to get us everywhere, we seldom interact with others in our neighbourhood as we are rather secluded. The properties in our neighbourhood are large and the neighbours like their privacy which is fine but we both feel that we need a change. We have by no means become hardcore minimalists but we have often talked about focusing more on experiences rather than things and giving back to a community through volunteer work. We think this is not only good for us but for our daughter as well, we would also like to raise her in a neighbourhood she can walk to school, and be more connected to a community. So we plan to sell or donate a large portion of things, downsize, and move into the city.
What does my move have to do with photography, and the questions above? Well nothing I thought until I stumbled across a video by photographer Eric Kim. Eric is a contemporary photographer who effectively uses social media and the web to market himself and his projects. He has a very interesting mindset when it comes to creating work which resonated with me quite a bit. Eric’s personal philosophy is to not be so attached to stuff, but find fulfillment in life through experiences (Meditations on Life and Photography, 2017). He uses photography to document these experiences and uses photography to answers questions he is curious about and sharing these answers or truths with others (Meditations on Life and Photography, 2017). Eric finds joy through discovering and creation and enjoys life.
Living a life based on experiences rather than material consumption is very important to me and Eric’s connecting photography to this idea was revelatory. For me this was also an aha moment an affirmation of my studies as I realize that what I have been doing it taking and idea that peaks my interest then I research, document, create, reflect, learn, share, and then repeat this process. This is how one becomes a better visual communicator. This is the essence of the practice-led methodology and also design thinking for creatives. I am curious though, did my studies influence my current life choices or visa versa.
So I think I have answered the question, why photograph at all what is the point? Photography is about documenting my experiences and sharing what I have found with the world. Like Eric I am the happiest when I am creating new information new photos, new videos and living in the pure creative moment (Meditations on Life and Photography, 2017). That is the point of photography and I think life, finding your own happiness.
Eric Kim Photography (2017) Meditations on Life and Photography. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHMMkKppfSg (Accessed: 05 June 2019).