Creative joy

When I first picked up photography in earnest, I took pictures of everything.

My camera went with me everywhere, and anything that caught my eye was fair game. It didn’t matter if anyone but me would find the subject interesting; what mattered was having fun and learning new ways to look at the world around me.

Then, slowly, other people began taking notice of my photography, and I started to feel like I had something to prove.

There’s an assertion within certain online photography communities that you should only ever share your best work. For a long time, I bought into this as an absolute truth.

The assumption of disinterest quickly became a burden, to the point where I would hesitate to take certain shots in the first place. If the shot didn’t have portfolio potential—if there wasn’t an obvious “wow” factor, if I couldn’t get the light to fall exactly the way I wanted it—then I tricked myself into thinking it wasn’t worth the effort.

My big mistake here? I wasn’t factoring my own opinion into the equation.

It’s easy to get caught up in megapixels and sensor size or whatever other camera specs are hot at a given moment, but at the end of the day, none of that is what photography is about.

Photography is so much more than technical ability or aesthetic appeal; it’s a visual language that knows no lingual or cultural barriers. The story a photo communicates may vary from person to person, but it has something to say all the same.

Each image I create—even the bad ones—says something about me as a person. The images I choose to post each mean something to me, even if it’s something small, like remembering the way a certain light filled me with calm.

That’s what makes them worth sharing. That’s why the “boring” shots matter.

This is what I meant when I talked on Instagram recently about uninhibited creation: to do something for the joy of it, pure and simple. If there’s a certain “rule” or assumption that’s keeping you from doing something you love, toss out that damn rule.

You don’t have to change the world with your art. You just have to do the work for yourself.

Using Format