I have been thinking a lot recently about how social media affects photography and influences certain style. There are specific trends on Instagram for example that keep cropping up consistently and I feel as if there is tremendous pressure to follow them. What if the photography that you choose to shoot is different than mainstream? What if what you like to create does not fit into any category or cannot be neatly placed into a box with a specific label on it? Does that mean you should not share your work? Is your work only valid if it receives a certain number of likes or gains a certain number of followers? What if you never get the recognition that certain artists do even if you work extremely hard and your pieces are exceptional?
This is a very dangerous area to step into. I myself frequently fall “victim” to the comparison game. I scroll through my feed and instead of just allowing myself to be inspired, I feel bitter with resentment. I put myself and my work down. I compare numbers and likes and credits. I tell myself that I’m going nowhere, that my photographs are worthless, that I can never be like this or that artist.
Such mindset and behavior are very toxic. In moments like this, I take a step back and take a deep breath. Is this really what’s it all about? If I recognize that my art and my work are made because they want to be made, if I acknowledge that I photograph simply because it makes me feel alive and happy, then why should all that change based on the number of likes or followers I get? Would I make all of this if no one else was looking?
If the answer is yes, then that’s where the prize lies.
Make art for the sake of making it. Create what makes your heart leap with joy. Focus on the process, immerse yourself in it and know that your work’s worth lies in the way it makes you come alive.
Thinking of all that this morning, I came up with a manifesto. I call it “The Photographer’s Manifesto,” although it really applies to any creative work out there. I wrote it down and here it is.
- I will make images for my love of photography, not merely to fulfill a quota or gain more social media followers
- I will shoot only what truly moves my soul
- I will stay true to my personal vision and not what the latest trend may be
- I will continue creating despite the difficulties and responsibilities of daily life
- I will be kind to myself and my work knowing that anything made from the heart has already gained its merit
I’m planning to have this calligraphed 🙂