I’ve been off from Facebook for just over a week now. Why? Because I no longer felt like I was fully in control of my time. I felt as if I were robbing myself of something. What could I be doing, as opposed to browsing through Facebook while on my way to work? How else could I use a spare 5 or 10 minutes? I’ll get into that in a second. What does it have to do with photography? I’ll definitely expand on that too. This is a photography blog after all.
“whatever is preventing you from gaining more emotional intelligence – stop it now!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve deactivated my Facebook account, and it certainly will not be my last. While living in Seoul, South Korea, I also have to keep in touch with family in South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom and Norway. Due to the way the world chooses to keep in touch socially, Facebook is the new standard now. So I’ll activate my account when I’m ready. For now, I`ve resorted to creating a dummy account to manage my photography page. This is probably how you`re still able to come across this blog entry in the first place. This isn’t also an “I hate Facebook” rant either. This is however a “whatever is preventing you from gaining more emotional intelligence – stop it now!” type of post.
Something that creates this illusion of being busy while not being busy at all, requires one to retreat from it as if it were the plague. This isn’t just true for Facebook. Television has the same effect. Craving stimulation while not wanting too much stimulation because feeling and thinking is too much or simply exhausting. Just give me the numbing stuff and I’ll be on my way. Seoul also sometimes has that effect on people. This city is so hectic at times, the only escape seems to be a screen. But there are healthier ways to rest or rejuvenate.
I needed a break to think and to reflect. Free time to also feed my mind with positive and constructive information or knowledge. For the sake of photography, I thought it was time to reassess, pay attention, plan and to grow. Going back to basics certainly isn’t a bad thing.
I craved excitement and a sense of discovery too. Seeing what’s around me as opposed to staring at a cellphone screen. There’s so much happening around us. I found myself pulling out my phone, and without thinking, just opening Facebook for no reason. A lot like walking to the refrigerator and checking if there’s anything new to eat. Unless the neighbours went shopping and filled the fridge without your knowledge, nothing has changed. I believe it was Einstein who said that the definition of madness is, doing the same thing over and over, and expecting new results.
"To photographers, these tools or skills are paramount. They play a part in knowing when a real moment is about to happen or is happening. It prepares you in knowing when to click the shutter."
This brings me to photography. I could be stimulating my mind with so many other constructive things. I could be reading about and learning from other photographers I consider worthy to be mentors. I could be looking at colo(u)r and what works together. I could be watching how light falls and behaves. I could be looking for lines and shapes, and what it does for a picture. I could be observing people more. I could be looking for real human cues when dealing with emotions. The eyes, the tone in their voice, what people do with their hands when they’re comfortable or uncomfortable, when and how they smile when they’re speaking. Obviously I haven’t been living under a rock till now, I’m aware of all these things. But do I know it in detail? Do I know how to elicit these various types of body language? To photographers, these tools or skills are paramount in my opinion. Probably more important than the size of your camera sensor or the megapixel count for that matter. These skills could give life to your photographs. They play a part in developing your responsiveness to real moments, or giving you insight as to when a moment is about to happen. It prepares you in knowing when to click the shutter and to make that exposure.
I could also be making mental or digital notes on how and why I like making particular photographs. This could help me learn more about myself. Why do I need to learn more about myself? I believe I am as much a part of the photograph as the people or objects in the photograph. It’s foolish to think otherwise. If this is indeed the case, then I need to be able to represent my best “self”. I need to understand what it means to be honest and brave as both a photographer and human being when it comes to creativity. This takes time and effort. I mentioned in my post "An Afternoon With Rara" of how I planned to explain why I enjoy creating dark images. How can I reflect on things if I choose to be robbed of time?
I read something a while ago. Ernest Hemingway said:
"Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another."
I believe the same applies to photography. We as photographers may photograph the same topics or subjects as other fellow photographers, but to make it special or feel different, we have to rely heavily on details. That is where the magic lies.
With all of this waiting to be discovered and learnt – how can I choose to keep my nose in a screen while moments pass me by?
I`m 31 years of age now. I’d hate to look back at my photography at the age of 41 and still feel like I’m creating the same type of images.
What a shame that would be. Time is precious. It`s a gift that should be used wisely. I`d also hate to be on my deathbed thinking: I thought I knew everything.
I hope this has encouraged you to do what you`ve always wanted to do. Overpower the distractions, whatever it may be, put your head down and push, sleep and repeat.
Thanks for reading. See you soon.