My daughter recently asked me why I don‘t take so many photos anymore.
After being snappy happy for 12 years with a digital camera of one kind or another, I’ve forced myself to slow down and be more deliberate, having explored all I had to explore during that time.
The world is just SO fast in the age of digital. We’re bombarded with more information than we can possibly consume, and visual information created on the fly is readily available anytime, anywhere. There is good stuff out there, but it gets entirely buried – there’s no filter, no organization, no curation, and no way to digest it all. Visual sites on the internet are a dime a dozen. It’s photos and to a lesser extent, videos, with no purpose other than to keep making them and putting them out there, compulsively, a capitalist supply system and factory style labor with no end.
Not only do I find this exhausting, but frankly, boring. Posting to the same needle in the haystack sites in the same way over and over isn’t creative, it’s spewing your micro moments in public like a crazy person. This might be useful for about five minutes to get the attention of people who have little attention span, only to get lost again unless you make your spewing more and more outrageous, pump stuff out like a machine put to work to substitute anything remotely human. This is no place for a thoughtful person to exist.
When I first waded into this mode of operation, it was to have some kind of sounding board, to see if my work “stuck,” resonated with the experience of being human on this planet, at this moment. I’m not an extroverted person, I hate the spotlight, I don’t crave a legion of adoring fans to help me feel whole. Which is why I have, from time to time, stepped away from “the public square,” and why I now stay away from sharing my work there completely. Creating maniacally was part of my exploration of the digital photography medium, and it went on for a long time (imo), and I’m not the kind who creates habitually without any purpose or goal. I find that way of working boring, and boring leads to the end.
So, now, I take photos when I feel like it, and sometimes I don’t want to look at life through a glass lens at all – I just want to live it. The camera is a tool. I use it, it does not use me. It can do some pretty neat things, but it is not an extension of my body. It’s a medium. And it must live within the life I live most comfortably in – which is slow, thoughtful, not explicit, and organic.