Here is a sobering thought: despite my best efforts, the 1s and 0s that coalesce to depict my treasured portfolio will be formatted, corrupted, broken, or lost. As the technological wheel of progress turns, our floppy discs, USBs, and external hard drives won’t stand the test of time.
Let me back up slightly.
Photography was my job, and I continually pursued professional photography opportunities. I took pictures for an organization and worked in a communications department, relentlessly seeking optimal image quality and exceptional results. Those objectives infiltrated my artistic vision and skewed my sense of photographic values. Along the way, I lost touch with a piece of my creativity. My artistic resurgence has been illustrated ad nauseam on this blog, through my 365 day project, but an important component of the tale was not properly described. A subtle, yet profound, change in philosophy has affected my photographic decisions and benefitted my life greatly.
I love taking pictures and I love sharing pictures. Prints, posts, gifts, galleries — sharing my artwork brings me joy, and yet, I am aware of a sobering truth: most of my images will end up forgotten, erased, or thrown away. This is a realty I cannot escape. From a sandy Cape Cod beach at sunset to a towering national park mountain, that which I try so hard to capture will be forgotten. As I previously stated, those 1s and 0s will have a hard time keeping up with the industry’s ever-evolving standards.
How depressing, right? Well actually, I think this realization is liberating and instructive. Rather than disposing of your camera, and the revitalizing hobby of photography right here and now, ask yourself a simple question: what photographs matter to you and your family?
This photograph matters to me.
This one too.
During my artistic resurgence, I realized how little image quality matters to me. My recommendation, pursue emotionally impacting others; this is how our photographs endure and this is where their value lies. I sought technical perfection. Now I seek impact, depth, importance, gravity, emotion, and meaning. Lofty goals I know. I may only ever take a handful of these photographs in my life, but that is okay.
The above picture of my family was taken many years ago. What camera took that picture? I have no clue, and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. How many likes did it get? Just one, mine, and that’s enough. I was only a youngster when the shutter closed on that happy day, and yet all these years later, I made a point of pinning this print up in my room. I like looking it at. It illustrates my feelings towards my childhood and towards my family. Even writing about this now makes me feel. The photograph of the man and his dog that I took in Edinburgh matters to me, and I’m not entirely sure why. It makes me feel.
As Maya Angelou said, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If I may be so bold to modify these wonderful words – people will forget what pictures you take, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Back in 2017, I realized that my camera was not up to the standards set by the latest and greatest equipment on the market. Rather than selling and buying, I let go of my desire for technical perfection and I embraced a new quest. Now, I focus on fine art and capturing sentimentality. This pursuit makes me happy. I am seldom successful, but I try, and that is enough.
More brilliant and true words have never been spoken. Thanks for this reminder of what is important! Cheers, Rodney