I saw a post on Twitter from photographer Forrest Mankins that got me thinking.
It’s very popular to preach that photos need to “tell a story” + be of something that “‘matters” etc. That drives me crazy, did social media make everyone forget about art for art’s sake?
— Forrest Mankins (@forrestfire) March 23, 2018
As I’ve gotten more serious about photography I often feel the need to have a specific reason for taking a photo. Yet many of my favorite photos don’t perform on social media, or even get reactions from those that see them.
Take this photo, for example:
I love this photo.
When I was posting it on Instagram I sat with a blinking cursor trying to think of a caption to explain why I like it so much, what the story is, or what people should take from it. I struggled and eventually just said “Alleyways.” because thats where the photo was taken. It felt like a cop-out at the time, but I still really wanted to post the photo because I like it so much.
Over the past few days I’ve sat with this, and it took seeing Forrest’s tweet for it to come together.
This photo is art for art’s sake. My feelings about this photo might not be felt by other people. They don’t have the context for the photo that I have as the photographer, or maybe they just don’t have the same taste in photos I do. But that’s okay because maybe they’ll find something of their own in it, and even if they don’t that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy picture.
Social media can change how people create, by making it purely for what we think others might like versus for us, for art’s sake.
And it takes a lot of self-control and intention to fight that. But its worth it.