The Importance of Play
Being a creative in 2019 can be tough sometimes. There is this expectation of perfection everywhere you look. There is the need to outdo your last piece of work. There is the race for more follows and likes. There is a constant fight for attention and affirmation that didn’t exist before.
Technology has changed the way we view and present work: We post our work online to social media instead of as prints in homes or galleries. It has changed the way people respond to work: A constant barrage of imagery and content online has desensitized viewers and has made them less likely to react to anything in a meaningful way. Technology has changed the way our work receives attention and praise: We get double taps, tags, and “likes” instead of clients and gallery print sales.
I actually recently found an Instagram account called @insta_repeat, that displays this idea all too well. Everyone is so busy fighting for attention, that they’re more willing to recycle and blatantly imitate something they’ve already seen get a good reaction, rather than try to invent compelling imagery for themselves. Why bother putting in the effort to make something that might not get as many likes as a “behind the model, holding hat, staring at beautiful landscape shot?”
The pressure to be consistently great is exhausting, at best, and crippling at worst. It makes us (at least me), not want to create anything that isn’t meticulously thought out. I found myself not wanting to shoot anything unless I had the session completely mapped out in my brain, from what hair and makeup was going to look like, what every piece of our wardrobe was going to be, to exact lighting, and what the set was going to look like. Don’t get me wrong, these things are important to keep in mind and plan for, but there was a certain, unyielding rigidity to the way I went about doing it.
I didn’t like having to be flexible if there was a change in plans for a certain look or shot. I didn’t push myself to venture outside of the box of static images I had already pre-planned in my head. And the worse part is, if I didn’t nail something exactly the way I saw it in my head, I felt like the entire shoot was ruined and like I was the worst photographer in the world.
Then, something happened a few months ago: It was my birthday and my plan was to spend a quiet day in my pajamas playing video games and drinking wine. However, instead of doing that, I ended up spending 13 hours in front of my computer racing to meet a retouching deadline.
By the time I was done with that work, the LAST thing I wanted to do was spend MORE time in front of the computer, home alone, on my birthday. So instead, I got dressed, grabbed my camera, and went downtown to the venue where my husband’s band was playing.
My only motivation that night was to go out and have some fun. I people watched, I took some photos of the band, of new friends I had made, of the dancing crowd, and around downtown at night. There were zero expectations of me from clients or otherwise. I was shooting because I wanted to, not because I had to.
That night I had the most genuine fun with my camera that I have had in a long time.(more…)