Yeah, what do you want?
A long time ago, a friend noted I was shooting lots and asked what I was going to do with all the pictures I take, like there’s some higher purpose. At the time I was quietly affronted. Later in life the same friend mentioned my skills had improved considerably. So, my friend has the backhanded compliment skills of a tactful HR rep about to fire a temporary PA, but she was right. Annoyingly.
I share images on Instagram, occasionally Twitter and here on my blog, but the end result of those is less and less interactions as we’re all so swamped with stuff, who’s got the time to comment or mull over the fine points of a photo on Instagram when there’s another just below? And what’s this? A VIDEO!? Of a cat on a SKATEBOARD? Forget photos, let’s watch these every day! Add to that algorithms that push your stuff up the list the more one posts and the results is less and less impactful images on one’s feed every day.
What prompted me to think on this was yet another picture of Durdle Door, a coastal formation in Dorset, England, popping up on Twitter like an unwelcome fart. I groaned, ironically like an old door (or indeed an old fart), as very few images that are taken in this Instagram-inspired, tripod-holing world of ours are original or interesting at all, but Durdle Door is done now surely, no? The legendary David Bailey recently said on TV, “Most people take photos. I make them.”
Oh shit, son! Did you just compare yourself to Bailey? You snap little bugs, orchids, deer and landscapes. Where’s your Queen Elizabeth grinning like a loon? Well, yes, this is the thing. We’re not all portrait or fashion photographers, but neither are we identical to our neighbours, our lovers or our friends, so why in the name of all that’s mad in the world are we taking the same pictures?
For a long while now I’ve been going through an existential crisis, photographically speaking. It’s this that means my largest voluntary task for Natural England is to photographically survey nature reserves. Sure, boring photos in the main, but they have a purpose and at least one of my cameras is justified in being in my ownership.
Maybe I’ll never move on from just making the pretty pretty. Maybe that’s the point – to just enjoy the process. I’m getting to the point though where maybe that’s not enough.
Watch this space as I enter The Pretentious Git Zone…