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.”
I have two words for you Bullet Journal. Now you might be thinking what does journaling have to do with photography. One is writing and note taking, the other is making photographs and being creative. Photography takes a lot of technical know-how, as well as creativity. Creativity requires expression, ideas and a medium to showcase your thoughts and vision. Taking notes, be it in a notebook, iPhone, journal or napkin, reinforces your thoughts and ideas. Notes can help to achieve tasks. Whenever you get an idea you run the risk of losing it if you don’t write it down. The Yin and Yan world of photography is left and right brain-dependent, balancing creativity and productivity, which fits perfectly with Bullet Journaling.
We are a generation that was raised on the short term gratification of TV & the internet. We think and believe we can have anything right now. If we can’t, we google search for a hack to hurry the process and get there sooner. This subconscious influence from TV and the internet is what makes short-term gains so appealing. Why wait when I can have or do it right now.
Before I write I think to myself what can I communicate that will bring value to my readers. Should I write a gear review because these kinds of articles get the most interactions, but they get the least meaningful responses? When I write about value, meaning, purpose, finding yourself, discipline these articles get fare fewer readers but more significant responses. The question is do I want reach or depth? But even contemplating this kind of thought is what I call The Editor’s Mind, thinking, and trying to control something before it has even happened.
There is something all-newcomer photographers tend to do, they either dream of camera gear or buy a lot of it. When I started in photography I went through the same thing. I thought that I needed all the lenses that my idols used, I believed I needed the biggest megapixel camera, with all the film features just in case a potential client wanted video. But over time with age came wisdom.
It’s a hard and easy question, depending on how deep you want to go.
Many people want to capture a moment, archive a memory. Some people want to express themselves or other peoples stories. Some want to show you something, be it a travesty or crime to a shiny object to entice you to buy it. For others capturing a photo is meditative or therapy. We all have our own reasons to capture a photo.
I’ve been emailed by quite a few people asking very specific questions, going into the micro of details to understand and improve their methods, process and photos. These people that have been asking me questions are intently focusing on the 1% details instead of trying to improve the fundamentals that make up 99% of a photography.
I am a firm believer that we are born with a certain capability of intellect. But that we can also improve and learn beyond our natural limitations. But for some reason, I often hear the compliment “Your so lucky to have a natural talent.”, as if your DNA had something to do with all your years of hard work and practice. A comment people say so they don’t feel bad about their own accomplishments because, in their eyes, you have to be born with a talent. So are some photographers born to become masters?
I don’t want to be another Instagram photographer because your images are only seen in the context of a social media feed. The images on Instagram are pathetic when compared to the printed equivalent. Even seeing a photo essay on a website or blog is better than Instagram. So why am I against the grain with this so called platform for photography?