It’s been a funny sort of year, 2017. A great many things have conspired to put the brakes on creative work for me. In this world of Social Media and compulsive sharing, I’m not sure I have a lot to offer at this point. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I started Twin LensReflux as play on words, spoofing Gear Acquisition Syndrome. And for a time, I was a victim of said social construct. For the last couple of years, I’ve had a remarkably boring camera bag with no additions or expulsions to speak of. As a consequence, I’ve found myself with little to say in this area on Social Media.
GAS tends to work in cycles in the online echo chamber. Everybody wants a Hasselblad at one point, no a Contax 645, wait, no, a Pentax 67. There’s the never-ending parade of Lee-cuh glamour shots with the requisite congratulations and back-slapping. I’ve done my own cheerleading for certain brands as well, no doubt. I’ve always enjoyed working with high-quality equipment; I take the opportunity to use better made equipment whenever possible and sometimes abstain altogether when not. Though I’m happy with my choices, it could be misconstrued that I’ve become complacent and simply don’t have any more interest in the tools of photography. I’m just content with my kit. Is the constant cycle of sharing new equipment really anything but peacocking the latest blaze of disposable income? Honestly, I’m glad you love your new stuff, but show me you know how to use it.
Likewise, the steady parade of work on Social Media is fatiguing. The rapid-fire timeline of images from people I know and respect cheapens their talent after a while. Especially when the work is basically the same week-in and week-out. Sharing everything means you’re sharing nothing. In some ways, sharing is cathartic for the artist if they have the wherewithal to seek improvement. But most people aren’t sharing for the betterment of their craft.
It’s all about the metrics.
Since we have a way now to track and rate every tweet or post, these have become the bellwether for future success. Content Creators can hone their output to target certain demographics. Photographers now aspire to be “discovered” on Instagram (for having precisely the same style as everyone else who has been “discovered” on Instagram).
I’m not alone in having internal debate on which images to share online by how they may be received, liked or discussed. Stacking the deck so our work is received in a predictable way; if this isn’t complacency, I’m not sure what is. Where does one draw the line between sharing everything and sharing only the slivers of work we think are appropriate for our audience? Is it best to share nothing? Is it worth having a hundred “likes” if the work doesn’t speak to me? And if the work does speak to me, why should I care who else “likes” it?
In an effort to work on Contentedness as opposed to Complacency, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on both the technical and philosophical aspects of photography. The world is so much wider than the boundaries we paint for ourselves, especially within the silos of Social Media. Why is it that I’m involved in Photography in the first place?
I’m at a spot where I’m genuinely not sure what the answer is.