Unhappy or unfulfilled photographers are only a matter of clicks away from putting the camera down permanently. Ask yourself these questions before it's too late.
Trying to please everyone with your work will probably result in you pleasing no one. And even worse than that, you may begin to despise your images as they become further and further removed from the reasons why you got excited by photography in the first place. This week, photographer and educator Alex Kilbee of Photographic Eye is back once again to explore this very concept in his latest video, and it's the pep talk we all need to hear.
The video starts with Kilbee talking about the dangers of harvesting likes and followers on social media and poses the question of how our photography would change if no one saw it. It's a thought-provoking question that I'm sure hasn't crossed many of our minds. Kilbee stresses the importance of reminding ourselves why we take the pictures that we do and the joys that made us fall in love with the medium in the first place.
If that wasn't enough of a wake-up call to stop chasing likes, the video uses renowned photographer Vivian Maier as the perfect example of someone who loved the craft, made amazing work, and seemed to care little if anyone saw it. The act of showing work to the world was not required to validate Maier as a photographer, and it's an attitude we could all learn from. While I appreciate an audience can be a great motivator for making work, it should never be the sole reason for picking up a camera.
I think we've all seen photographers who seem to change their approach to photography constantly to appeal to the masses or the ones that have a sense of entitlement about them that people should be liking their work. Both these two things will only end up in an unfulfilled photographer who cares more about the like counts rather than the images made. I have been in this industry for long enough to see many talented photographers come and go because they fell out of love with the medium. I truly believe that if some of those people had held a few of the questions posed in Kilbee's video in their head they may still have been shooting today. Bookmark this video and share it with your fellow photographers. This 10-minute watch could be the shot in the arm you needed.
Lead image originally by Luis Quintero, used under Creative Commons.