For most of us, we end up reasoning by analogy because we’ve had the ‘why’ question beaten out of us. Naturally, we are born with reasoning by first principles, but our parents, guardians, teacher and mentors eventual put their foot down and say something like because I said so. Our curious mind and quest for reason and answers are destroyed by an authority. Do as I say, because I said so, don’t question me, I’m the chef, your just the cook follow the recipe.
We are what we repeatedly do. We are the actions we take not the words we say. How you live today is how you live your life. In saying that what did you do today? What did you do to better yourself and your aspirations in photography? Indiana Jones said it best “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out of the library!” or in other words, “If you want to be a good photographer you gotta get off the internet!”
I only use one camera body and one lens, because I only have one voice and one point of view. Most photographers use a variety of equipment and effects to best capture a subject. To say something unique and different for each moment. Wanting to tell a story in a unique way from everyone else. But is this necessary, isn’t your point of view enough?
It’s no lie that Minimalism is the direct contrast and was brought to light from the juxtaposition of over-consumption. All trends start from the opposite, a rebellious movement around social norms. Minimalism isn’t new, its aesthetic has been around since the 1600s from Japan. Then later the word ‘minimalism’ was coined as an art movement in the 1960s. Today it is associated with an aesthetic and the juxtaposition of hoarders. But what I am interested about the photography genre minimalism is the appeal. The need, want and visually pleasing nature of minimalism.
As artists, we all know what good work looks like. We know it’s difficult to achieve good work, but we strive regardless. It can sometimes feel like we are Sisyphus, but instead, we never reach the peak of the mountain. The road to becoming a successful artist however you interpret it can be arduous, for there isn’t a standard path. In our hearts we know we can’t just follow a guidebook, mentor or degree to reach it. Which can be frustrating, the not knowing. The passage one must take is unprecedented, a route only an individual can charter through.
I’m sick of reading misleading titles with catchy thumbnails that use bold fonts that have nothing to do with the content except for the sole purpose of catching your attention so you click on it. We live in a world where people spend more time trying to be heard rather than focusing on what to say. Do you really think that meaningful content is manifested just to get more likes? Great work comes from the soul, from a place of meaning, purpose, a personal story, a creative exploration into one’s self.
Pick up your camera, hold it, look at it, and ask yourself is my camera obsolete. Does it no longer achieve what I require from it? Chances are you can think of a few things your camera needs. But if you’re being honest with yourself you’re just comparing your current camera with another. We all compare, we all want something someone else has. We want abundance, more, the newest shiny whatever. But when you think about purpose, function, getting the job done. Do you really need that new camera or camera model upgrade?
I stumbled upon a wonderful quote about creativity when I was reading a book about waiting. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitation.” – Orson Welles. I instantly related to this quote and how it affected my photography through analysis paralysis.
We live in a time of wonderful abundance. An era where if you have the means you can own almost anything. We live in a time where people keep creating things to make our lives easier, faster and more instant. With this abundance of choice our first obstacle isn’t starting something but rather how should we proceed.
Now before I get into it, I’m not talking about the aesthetics of minimalism in photography, I’m talking about the life choices and social movement of minimalism and its effect on me as a photographer.
With that out of the way, I wanted to tell you that what I consider minimalism might not be your definition. There are so many iterations. Lifestyle, aesthetic, spiritual, bullet journal etc. But let me put you in the right mindset. The Minimalists define it like this.
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfilment, and freedom.”
Let say you want to photograph, edit and upload a photo to Instagram every day of the week? That’s 365 photos, that’s a lot of work. How about 5 days a week. That’s more achievable and gives you the weekend to take images and edit them for the whole week, rather than a daily commitment spanning the year. How about three images a week. That’s doable, you could do that. How about one image a week, now that’s easy. That’s where you start, with easy.