A good place to have bad ideas

Quitting social media

A few weeks ago, a petty tyrant mod on reddit got under my skin. I decided to take the rest of August off of social media and... I didn't regret it?

My brain has had more space in it the last while. I don't have the same automatic responses to being bored. I killed my Twitter account, am about to kill my reddit account, and Instagram is relegated to the mobile webpage.[1]

It's felt so good that I want to keep it this way. Everyone and their mother has been saying to blog or write a newsletter instead of social media, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

A good place...

I hope to blog semi-regularly on a schedule I haven't settled on yet. My topics will be chosen as I take photos and learn about taking photos. That will mean some process posts, sharing projects and results, and talking about the philosophy and art guiding my work.

To have bad ideas

I also intend to share mistakes, rough ideas, works in progress, and other ephemera. It's my space, and I'll run it how I please.

If you want to see my polished work, first of all thank you! Check out my portfolio. This blog is very much not that.

Going forward

Who knows, this may not work out for me. I'm not making any promises just yet. But I'm going to give it a real try.

The benefit of the silence in the wake of social media has been thought. I've thought, a lot. Sometimes it hurt yuk yuk. And I want to continue to develop those thoughts about the artistic work of myself and others, so I need a place to do that.

Here's to new beginnings.

[1] Instagram have made this an awful experience. Don't be like Instagram.

What do I want to photograph?

This is a question I ask myself often. Like, way too often. To the point where I think it gets in the way.

My kinds of photos

I like taking aesthetic photos. Aesthetic photos, to me, contain just the right balance to provoke my brain into focusing on them. They aren't, for me, very emotional. Aesthetics in my photos, or the ones I admire, tends to boil down to being drawn to the photo and usually not being sure why.

Sometimes aesthetic photos bore me with superficiality, possibly because they are viewed on a phone. It's hard to appreciate a photo on my tiny screen, and the same photo might stun me aesthetically in print.

I also like taking photos of people. People are chaos incarnate, moving and reacting to their own internal worlds. Each of us is a multitude in our own right. When I photograph people, I look to capture some of that multitude, in whatever form.

I think the portrait is one of the most challenging art forms. We expect people to look a certain way, so either the portrait artist must meet that expectation, or subvert it entirely. A good portrait provokes both an aesthetic and emotional reaction in me, and I strive to achieve that in my photos.

Portraits, of all these kinds of images, are the ones most likely to succeed on a phone screen. Our brains search for the human form. We see and respond to it quickly, even when rendered in miniature. Maybe that's why I like them so much—they feel timeless and universal.

I like taking photos of the landscape, whether natural or built. In part, my landscapes are a portrait of the people who spend time there. Those same landscapes are also a veneration of a world that lives on in spite of humanity's best efforts. In many ways I feel the relationship of humans to Earth (meaning every other living thing) is a parasitic one with the potential to be symbiotic. I want to capture complexity in my landscapes.

I don't enjoy mere disaster or urban decay porn. Photos of a burned out car or derelict house provoke a sadness in me that is profound, but not pleasant. Those photos have immense value to me but are journalistic in nature and not something I look at to enjoy (and again fall flat on a phone screen). They inspire altogether different action.

Conclusion

I ask myself what I want to photograph so often because I feel that I need to pick just one subject or style and stick with it, in order to be truly good. On the other hand, my brain requires and thrives on novelty. Often, the lessons I learn from one kind of photography lead me to a new discovery with another kind.

For me, the key is intentionality rather than focus by limitation. Intentional practice and discovery lead to the greatest progress in my own work.