On My Birthday, I Am Deleting My Instagram as a Gift to Myself.
When I was approached by Brad to be featured on this guest blog a few months ago (back in June to be exact) I had a whole different set of ideas for what I wanted to talk about to a community of photographers and photography lovers alike.
Well, when I sat down to get to it in the more recent weeks, I realized how ever changing our entire worlds can become in just a matter of months, and where my head is at now…it is a very familiar place for all of us creatives in 2018. This may feel a lot more like a journal entry then advice about photography or a career related conversation topic, but I think that is what we all seek anyway when we create anything; a way to connect to others, to empower each other by sharing stories, and share things that we feel are important to us.
I spend the last minutes/hours of my night like a lot of you, on Instagram. Getting inspired, growing upset, laughing, sending memes to my best friends, or all of the above. I was born in 91’ and am a millennial through and through. BUT I am a millennial type who has hopes and intentions of using my technology powers for good in this world, and not to replace life happening in front of me, or a reason for utter laziness.
As some of you can likely relate, how I feel hours after perusing “the gram” is really just a crap shoot, it could be wildly inspired or it could be utterly disgusted at my own pathetic work. It really started to grow increasingly upsetting night after night to find pages of models, photographers, actors, and just humans in general that I had never heard of with millions, MILLIONS of fans/followers. Most of whose posts felt contrived, ad-based, and disingenuous in content. It is not some ground breaking social analysis to say that we have in large part come to the conclusion that a social following doesn’t equate to success or happiness.
But in my world, as a full-time freelance photographer, and maybe in some of yours, it does mean visibility, social currency, more potential clients, and some validation that your imagery/work is widely liked. That being said, I jumped for joy when my photo page it 1,000 followers this year… and I have spent the last 6 months toying with the idea of deleting my account all together.
I can’t seem to settle on some middle ground of using it for work, but ignoring the temptation to scroll endlessly and not to let comparison day after day steal the joy of where I reside in my own journey. Which at the very least is as a full-time photographer making a living! BUT, I have settled on a birthday gift (on October 15th) to myself, of removing it from my phone, I will keep it on my iPad to continue sharing work I am excited about.
Here Is Why:
I need to feel free again. To be on my own journey. To stop comparing myself to every other creative person out there and wondering why I feel stuck at times. I need to stop looking for validation and visibility and magazine covers and stick to shooting endlessly and growing my network along with my technical tool box. Making local connections. Keep finding what is beautiful in my world and capturing it. Collaborating with people that I am inspired by. Leaving my phone at home and taking a friend and a roll of film out to a new place. Making mistakes, ruining a roll or 2 and feeling that sting. I need to be intentional with my composition and make technical choices that make the photograph work for me.
And so do you.
I guess I am here to say, wherever you are in your journey, that is my wish for you. That you can take a moment and look at how your work has grown over the last year, or 3, or 5 and be excited for what is to come without worrying about your age or your own personal timeline compared to those around you. Keep sending emails and taking meetings, reaching out to people you think may never respond.
My most successful shoots have been where preparation met luck in some sort of creative sweet spot. I am going to keep chasing that magic pocket, and peddling along, and not worry so heavily about what external validation I can find from the work. I hope you find your magic often enough to never grow tired of looking for it too.