Regular followers of my work may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet recently, especially on my social media accounts. In fact as I’m writing this, I haven’t posted on Facebook in over 65 days. Guess what? The world hasn’t ended.
I adore my job, I adore every single chance I get to pick up a camera, create work and tell an honest story. I’ve always found photography to be my “flow“. Time passes in an instant; taking pictures feels so effortless and natural and…well, not like work. But if you were to ever describe the opposite; the thing I find hardest about being a photographer; it’s self-promotion. I’m not a particularly confident or outspoken person, and it’s just not in my nature to yell from the rooftop about how awesome everything is.
Yet it seems to have become the norm that to market your photography; you have to market yourself. Making who you are, what you do and where you go a part of your “brand”. When you fully follow this path, it feels as if your life, your experiences and most of your time become a simple commodity to exchange for likes, shares and audience engagement. Should I post a picture of what I’m eating? Is where we are interesting enough? Will my followers connect with this? How can I make my life look interesting/successful/fulfilling, even if it’s none of those right now? It all just ends up being a bunch of fakey fakeness.
The other potential downside to social media, is 24/7 access to a never-ending feed of other photographers amazing work. It’s so easy to get lost in a jealousy vortex, where you just don’t feel like what you do is good enough. Like a dog chasing it’s own tail; it’s an endless, energy sapping journey. Just staying relevant and keeping up with the Jones’s becomes a struggle that’s totally exhausting for anyone who is driven to be creative and original.
I’m kind of ashamed to say I fell into this trap late last year. I fell out of love with what I was creating, despite the incredible feedback and support from all of our couples and clients, just because my images didn’t look like what I thought they should look like. Despite an incredibly successful year, I spent most of my winter feeling like a bit of a failure.
This sense of failure got stronger and stronger until it turned into what I call self-promotion paralysis. I felt stuck in an expectation gap, between sharing more of what I loved to create or more of what I felt I was expected to create.
So at the start of February 2017, knowing something had to change, I decided to just check out. I went cold turkey and just stopped posting on Instagram, Facebook, even this blog. I deleted the apps, turned off the notifications and went “off the grid”. I began to reclaim my personal time for things that weren’t wedding photography or other photographers. To create space in my week to be bored, to play, to experiment, to have fun, to make mistakes and learn new things. To be a human-being first and a photographer second.
This was my social media sabbatical of sorts. And I’d say it worked a charm.
As I come to the end of this little experiment, I feel more relaxed, more open to new ideas, more confident to take risks and more creative than I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve feel like I’ve become so much more focused on the emotional, human element of creating meaningful work, and completely re-established WHY I do what I do, and what’s most important going forward.
Taking away all influences of other wedding photography has left a sort of creative blank space, where I can do what the hell I want, with no expectations and no worrying about presenting a cohesive and curated portfolio. I feel as if I’ve gotten to a point where my self worth doesn’t come from how nice my Instagram feed looks, but by the wonderful people I surround myself with, and the experiences I get to share with them. In real life I mean. Snapchat doesn’t count!
First and foremost, I’m here to take pictures, serve our couples brilliantly and do their wonderful wedding day justice. To create great moments and great experiences for everyone I have the pleasure and opportunity to work with. I want to try my best to help my fellow photographers and human beings who might be feeling the same. Everything else is secondary…
With this mindset, things have started to change. Even now with my social media holiday over, you’ll probably see less of me on Facebook and more of me on this blog. I’ve been playing with video and film and have an awesome little personal project on the go, that might be ready to share sometime soon. What’s important is that I’m excited, I’m ready to share more of the stuff that matters, and less of the stuff that doesn’t. Watch this space. 🙂