Finding That Innocence Once Again
When I decided to write these postings, my first goal/rule was to write a new one each month. Well, here it is very late in January and finally I started writing February's, never once conceiving of a spore sized idea to expand upon. A few days ago, I decided to just sit down at my iPad and start typing. A few hours later, I called it a night after pounding out some random thoughts. Going on my tried and true method of getting things done, I hoped for the best, planning to revisit these random thoughts after the passage of a few days. That sensible plan made it easer to sleep.
Here it is another day, and I am trying hard to piece together something usable, written a few days before when my mood and head were very much in the wrong place for writing. I was most definitely not in my happy place at that time. Understand that when I sat down and started typing it was at the end of a day which had started off poorly and never got better. This in turn caused my head to develop a real bad mood and attitude I was never able to shake. It had snowed the night before which meant a long, slow drive to my day job. Yup, still have one of them. Anyway, once at the office, the day became a very long, dull and stressful nine hours in which I let so many irritants get under my skin. Normally I am pretty good at letting office life just roll past me, but a few times a year I don't. So now say it with me, “that was one of those times”.
In times of funk and depression, as I was in that day, I found just writing things down helps. This posting started with the working title “Pointless" and that was going to be its depressing theme. Almost wanting to write a pity party posting because of how that day had gone. Now I have moved on, found my happy place, and I'm in a much better frame of mind.
Because of those feelings and writing them down, a thought did enter my head that could be expanded upon. For in the ramblings of an exhausted mind it was expressed that I was tired of people, “society”, telling me how I should be creating my photography works, how it should be done and that I was doing it all wrong. This is just a perceived feeling, one we invent. Being that we all are social creatures who make decisions based on the perceived judgments and acceptance of others or in another name, “the society”. In doing so, we give “the society” a power over us, in return, we hope to be allowed on to a desired social rung. Hope we are not mocked. Hope that the wrath of “the society” is not released upon us. In reality, I was making these commandments, then attributing them to “the society” and then blaming said society for making them, thus holding myself harmless and blameless and resenting the power of society over me.
But wait, these social concerns can be a good thing if used and understood properly. First it must be noted, I'm only talking about creating artwork, not the basics of society such as love, understanding, friendship, compassion, etc. when I say, forget society and go your own way. So how are they a good thing? When used as a motivator, which is unless you want become a lifelong cog in the machinery of society in the area of art and expression. They will motivate you to be a better non-conformist photographer or artist. If you think society is telling you to keep a tree in a photo, then by all means don't! Only if you like it in the composition should you keep it. You may want to be a cog photographer, and that is your choice. I don't want be one. I want to shoot the subjects I want, how I want to shoot them, and edit them as I see fit.
Turning down that voice in your head is the first, biggest and hardest challenge to overcome. It is hard to overcome millions of years of evolution, development and conditioning to strike out on your own. This has been of one my problems and fights my whole life. I am so geared to please others, worry constantly about what everyone else thinks of me and what I'm doing. I put them higher in priority then myself. I am constantly giving myself the short end of the stick. Because of this mind think, the little input I receive only reinforces a belief that I'm not good at this, thus creating the “no-self confidence belief”. Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining about my problems here, just writing about them in hopes of getting over them.
Getting input is fine, what you do with it could be a problem. If acting on input makes you change your work to please a societal demand in creating certain look, then welcome to the world of cog photography. Positive input is a powerful, joyful drug while the reaction to negative input is just as strong. Your whole artist outlook can be compromised because of them. For example, in my world, negative input can be taken as, “I laid my soul bare to the world and it was received badly, so my work must be no good”. Or, “I showed myself to society, and now it knows how little I know about what I'm doing”. “That will be society's problem, not mine for I will not listen or act upon the input” I have to keep telling myself. The real challenge is to stay true to yourself and continue doing what you know is right for yourself. Then, channel that negative energy into your work and become stronger because of it. Most of all, do not let it influence you unless that is what is wanted, both positive and negative.
A few years back, I photographing some fireworks in November, when I noticed a little girl not too far from me who was also taking photos of the fireworks. She was using either a cell phone or digital pocket camera. Though it was very dim and I couldn't see much but in the glow of the explosions I could see her face and the pure joy on it as she took her photos. I was thinking that those photos were hers and hers along. Not her moms, dads, brothers or sisters, but hers. They may not have been National Geographic quality, but then neither were mine...but they were her photos, she took them. Yes, mine may have better since I was using a DSLR and tripod and she was taking them hand held, but they were hers, not mine.
They may not have lasted long, maybe a minute if she didn't like them, but maybe, just maybe, she held on to them for a while because of the joy I knew they were bringing her. After she would take a few, she would run back to show somebody, then came back to shoot again. Maybe she took them into school to show off with a smile of pride on her face. Maybe they got uploaded to some web site where they will live forever. Whatever happened to them, this little girl seemed to be enjoying herself by taking them, and that is all that mattered. Maybe this little photo excursion sparked something in her and she will grow up to a pro shooter and travel the world. Whatever the outcome, she was taking them for the enjoyment, not letting society dictate how or what she should be doing.
That kind of innocence can be lost or misplaced as we age, but it can be found again. Looking for it starts with this question, “In the end, do I want to please, myself or society?” Don't be a non-conformist trapped in a conformist's body. Liberate the individual trapped inside and find that innocence once again.