Why do I photograph?
Why do I run? To make myself feel better, both physically and mentally.
Why do I bake? Because it's fun and therapeutic and I love seeing my family's face when they come in after school and work and smell what just came out of the oven.
So why do I photograph? It began as a way to practice my skills and master the never ending craft of photography. But then I discovered sharing my photos on Flickr, Facebook and finally Instagram and then, I think unconsciously, I slid into the mindset of taking photos for other people and forgot to take pictures for me, take pictures that speak to me. I began to take photos, and as much as this makes me uncomfortable to admit, for likes, comments and those little hearts that appear after you double tap an image. I began not posting the photos that I liked, but rather those photos that I thought others might like.
And guess what? Even though the likes, the comments and those little hearts began appearing, I began to feel disenchanted with the whole system and especially the need to feel validated for what started out as something fun for me to do to fill up those final days of my kids' childhoods.
What started out as something I was doing for myself quickly morphed into doing something for other people, those virtual friends and acquaintances I had made over the Internet.
Something had to give because I was getting further and further away from what had set out to be fun and motivating for me as I began drifting closer and closer to never putting my phone down/shutting off my computer/ignoring Real Life and paying attention instead to my on-line life more.
Over the weekend, I read a post by the wonderfully talented writer and photographer, Donna Hopkins, where she talked about breaking up from Instagram. It really resonated with me and I've since given a lot of thought as to why I think I need to be on these photo sharing platforms. What I keep coming back to, and again I'm ashamed to say this out loud, is that I was more concerned about what others thought of my work, not what I thought about my work.
I was sharing so that others could say (if they wanted) that I was good and that they thought my image was worth a like, comment or a little red heart.
I was sharing to feel validated.
That seems pretty silly, doesn't it, and such a sign of an unconfident photographer!
This year seems to be shaping up as to be the year of being "Big & Brave" for me. I've been leaving my business card at local bakeries and eateries here in the the area, saying that if they ever needed a photographer, then I'm available. I'm learning to conquer my fear of driving in big city traffic and checking in and out of hotels (that was something I always left up to David to do). I took part in my first march for equality. I was uncustomarily assertive during the time of my mother's knee replacement surgery. In just a couple weeks time, I'm taking a class from one of my photography heroes who will be teaching in Oklahoma City and I'm hoping to ask to get a picture with him afterwards. I'm pushing myself slowly but surely out of my comfort zone, and my confidence levels are getting higher and higher with every business card I'm leaving and every time I learn to stand up for myself.
I'm feeling more and more steady on my feet.
I decided on yesterday's run that I'm going to take a week off from social media, get away from likes, comments and those little red hearts. The apps are already off my phone and my computer and I'm looking forward to getting back to "me".
I'm hoping to find the answer again as to why I photograph.
And then to run with it.