“Forfeit the game Before somebody else Takes you out of the frame And puts your name to shame Cover up your face You can’t run the race The pace is too fast You just won’t last” Points of Authority – Linkin Park Hybrid Theory
Tell me that I can’t do something, and I will do it just to prove you wrong. Whether this is healthy, friendly behavior or not, it works for me, and we may both learn something along the way and possibly grow as people. Listening to Points of Authority by Linkin Park is how I lay that challenge at my own feet. The words kick me square in the ass, almost daring me to move beyond complacency. To stop accepting that nothing will change, except for the worse. To embrace, instead, that the way the world is does not work for me and those like me, and to then find the determination to make my own contribution to positive change. Landscape and nature photography is a thankless job.
This is how I started my day after yet another adventure into social media. I’ve come to many interesting conclusions over recent months in my attempt to stay motivated in my pursuits, but more often than not, I am unsuccessful in reigniting my passion. One such conclusion is that social media is toxic to my imagination. Like many other photographers, I invest a great deal of time, energy, vision, thought, consideration and reflection into every photo I create. To put that much into something only to receive little to no response is disheartening to say the least – it is, in fact, a losing proposition at this point. What begins as a love affair with a place, a moment and an image quickly turns into an overwhelming sense of defeat. That defeat turns into giving up – an experience that I am not built to consider. The experience has, in fact, become so overwhelming that I struggle with appreciating the positive responses that I do receive. Not good. I value those who appreciate my work, and they are sometimes the only reason I can find to keep trying. Do I suck? That’s the next logical question. “Suck” is a pretty strong word, and while I admit that I still have a lot to learn, I don’t feel that I suck. Assuming that I don’t suck and realizing that my social media experiences are not sustaining my enthusiasm, I found myself completely lost as to how to rekindle my passion through a more positive motivating factor. Hmmm…how did I do it before I knew that social media was part of the deal? At one point I was passionate, and I practiced this craft with zero knowledge of social media’s role in landscape and nature photography, so what happened? Simple -- my motivation changed, and that motivation is now snuffing out the last remaining embers of my passion. At this point, I will not even attempt to debate whether or not social media is necessary, because I know that it is for my business model. But with this line of thought, I started to see things in a new way. My social media impact has been lackluster, yet I continue to have new ideas, new visions, new experiences. I keep packing my gear into the Jeep every weekend. I keep watching the skies and land for dramatic color and light. I keep learning and growing as a photographer. I keep sharing my recent creations with the world, on the internet and in person. I continue to stand by my approach to photography. Social media may hold a place in my marketing strategy, but obviously social media in no way influences my pursuit of nor passion for photography. So, am I not already motivated by something other than likes, favs, votes, nominations, website visits, shares and comments? That left me asking one final question – if I am failing at social media, yet still creating images, what is my motivation? I have something to say. As soon as I said that to myself, it seemed so very obvious. That is, after all, how all of this started – a trip to northern Arizona in 2007. I have a lot to say, and my message gets deeper and more faceted with each passing day. If my lackluster social media impact doesn’t stop me, and in fact, drives me harder, it follows that I shouldn’t feel so defeated because of it. My past heartache seems silly now. Photography is the voice that I use to share how I see the world. Once I do that, I have all the validation that I need.
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