Friday, May 8, 2015

Why I added nothing to this blog for two and a half years

Until a few days ago, I hadn't posted on this blog since October 5, 2012.

Since October 5, 2012 ...

  • I let the domain names on my websites expire.
  • I stopped submitting to photographic contests.
  • I stopped promoting myself as a photographer.
  • I dropped out of the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers).

I realized I needed to work on myself and to stop working for an audience, whether real or imagined.  I wasn't selling many pictures, anyway.  I think I had sold less than a dozen images over the internet in the past decade, and perhaps six through the New Hampshire Art Association of which I am a member.  I stopped trying to sell, trying to guess what people wanted to buy, chasing the adrenaline rush from another sale.

I was also chasing the hits on my website, gallery and blog.  I never did Facebook, but that hit count on this blog was just as important to me as the Likes people track with so much attention.

All that stopped.  I started taking pictures for myself again.  I became my only audience.

I added multiple tens of thousands more images to my archive over the ensuing two and a half years. It was liberating.

Was it just a coincidence that one of the blogs I regularly follow posted an article on this very topic only a couple of days after I began to reflect on these things earlier this month?

Darwin Wiggett, in a post titled Self Awareness as a Barrier to Seeing, wrote
I was constantly sabotaging my own progress in photography by worrying about how I looked to others. 
Even when I shot alone, I was still thinking things like, ‘If I do this funky thing with the flash then people will think I am amazing” Or, “This is awesome! I can’t wait to show people this image; they’ll love it”. In short, I was still worried about my audience. I was shooting for other people and not shooting for myself! And of course I never grew as artist. 
[I]n forgetting about how my photos would appear to others, I started to see. 
Now I just shoot for me and worry little what others will think of my photos. As long as the photos are true to my vision and represent who I am and what I saw, then the photos are a success for me. Letting go of self, competition, and concern for audience is really about letting go of insecurities. Finally, I can fully pursue my creative vision. And in doing so the joy of creation has come back full force. 
[Reprinted with permission of the author.]
Wiggett was speaking for me. That was my prod to write this blog entry.

The annihilation of the ego, the "letting go of the self" as Wiggett calls it, lifts a curtain drawn between the eye and the subject. To use a photographic metaphor, it removes the fuzzy filter from the lens. That's the fuzzy filter that comes from fuzzy thinking. Surrendering to feelings alone, one gives up conceptualizing, naming, judging, and second guessing.  With relaxed attentiveness, and using the camera as a tool, the artist whose medium is photography expresses a life lived in a world experienced.

So I practiced at this.  And I stopped making pictures for an audience. And I took a vacation from writing for this blog.

Las Vegas 2013

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