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Beauty, Laziness, Social Media, and Fancy Lens

Last Saturday, I asked you about “what exactly is your problem with photography?”


I got some fascinating questions, of which I thought I’ll bring your attention to these though-provoking questions from Arvindh.


Here’s what he asked:


From the photography side, I have several things that inhibit me from taking a damn photo, though I loved it. They are:

      1. I don’t see the beauty of everyday things anymore. Street photography and shooting photos of people was fun for me.

      2. I am lazy to take out the camera because I lack motivation.

      3. I started relying too much on social media for validation, as opposed to creative satisfaction.

      4. I feel I need a fancy lens.  (Probably cuz I broke this same one in Kerala and I’ve not taken the camera out much after that.)


Okay… here are my answers and suggestions to Aravindh and you if you have similar questions.


Q1: I don’t see the beauty of everyday things anymore. Street photography and shooting photos of people was fun for me.


Yes. That’s normal. 


After a while, perhaps after a few months or a few years, we seem to hit a plateau in anything that we do—creative or otherwise. So, it’s okay if you don’t feel fun anymore.


It’s better not to force it. It’ll do any good. Instead, here’s what you can do if you want:

  1. Start photographing something that you never photographed, but you wanted to. Maybe you wanted to do Macro, or Landscapes, or Architecture, or something else. Sometimes, just turning your mind into something new will get you back in the game with renewed energy and desire.
  2. Learning new skills in photography to tackle different photography subject always helps.
  3. Having a purpose helps too, as I discuss next.


Q2: I am lazy to take out the camera because I lack motivation.


Tell me who is not lazy. 


I am lazy. It’s been more than 6 months the last time I picked up my camera. And… I call myself a professional photographer. That’s a different story.


Anyway, most often we lack motivation because we don’t have a purpose. We don’t know what we’d want to achieve by taking our camera out. The motivation could be different for different people:

  • For some, it could be that they want to have fun.
  • For some, it could be that they are looking for a particular photo.
  • For some, it could be because they are so bored sitting at home (I’d do that while I was in Sweden with my friends.)
  • For some, it’s the joy of being in nature or just walking around in the streets or hanging around with other photographers.
  • For some, it’s the joy of photographing their kids or pets.

There could be many reasons. 


But, what’s important is to have some purpose. Don’t make it vague like “I want to make the best photo” or “I want to a be a great photographer” or something on those lines because they are same as saying “I want to be a millionaire.“


Instead, have a simple and achievable goal enough to motivate you to take your camera out regularly. Usually, a personal project or an assignment is what makes you feel full of life. There are quite a few examples like this. I vividly remember that there was this photographer who took up a personal assignment to photograph the beggars in New York or someplace in the US. That’s a worthy goal and a rewarding one.


Just decide what’s that you’d like to do through the photography that’ll give you satisfaction. And, just go ahead and do it.


Q3: I started relying too much on social media for validation, as opposed to creative satisfaction.


Social media a boon for some—a handful of—photographers, but a bane for the whole community. 


We as humans crave for recognition. We have learned to value others opinions about us and our work, “more” than our own opinion. It’s a pity but a fact, nevertheless. And, the social media has just multiplied that effect to a humongous level that’ll soon be showing up the “side-effects” in every walk of our life. We are already seeing some major traumas due to the “so-called” connecting the whole world. 


Anyway, remember that getting validation is important to creative learning. But what matters more is… “Who’s validating your work?” That’s vital. And, you know that social media is not where you get the validation.


If you look at my social media accounts and following, I have the least number of followers in the whole world, I guess. So, does it make me any bad? Or, the ones who have millions of followers, does it make them any better?


Nope.


In my opinion, it’s better to be a great photographer and has no one recognize you—because a truly great photographer doesn’t do it for recognition—than to be a mediocre one recognized by millions.


Sounds contradictory right?


We all know what’s we deserve—whether we accept it or not—deep in our heart and there’s nothing worse than being honored and recognized for the work which you personally know that it’s mediocre. You’ll invariably feel guilty and have low self-esteem.


Anyway, if you see that social media is degrading your creativity, you should stop using it for photography. Use it for connecting and another purpose if you like, but just stop posting your photos there. 


You shouldn’t photograph for Likes and Shares, you should photograph for your own satisfaction. Even if someone close to your heart appreciates it—just one person, it’s more than enough. In fact, that’s what matters.

Q4: I feel I need a fancy lens.  (Probably cuz I broke this same one in Kerala and I’ve not taken the camera out much after that.)


Just before two months, if you asked me this question, I’d have pounced on you and opened up a “long” lecture about the same old nonsense saying… “Oh… camera and lens are just a tool… blah blah blah.” 


But not anymore.


If you feel you need a fancy lens, sure… go ahead and buy one for yourself. If that makes you feel happy, that makes you go out and photograph, then why not?


I think far too many professional photographers—including me, of course—have made a mess of this whole photography community by creating some kind of a “false belief” or “superstition” that you are not a photographer if you ask about the camera, lens, and the settings.


I now oppose it vigorously. In fact, in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, I’ll be on a self-motivated agenda to “eradicate” these superstitions that are plaguing the photography community.


Okay… I think I’ve said enough.


Thanks to Arvindh for these wonderful questions.

Okay, now it’s your turn to tell me what’s stopping you from doing photography?


Want to know Bird Photography Settings? Don’t worry, I have you covered.


Talk Soon.


Best Regards,
Prathap

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Prathap

Prathap is a professional nature photographer and founder of Nature Photography Simplified blog. He aims to simplify every photography concept to help beginners and amateur photographers.

Download his highly recommended FREE eBook "Bird Photography – 10 Mistakes and Solutions" which has been instrumental in helping thousands of bird photographers.

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