The Subconscious "Like"
This deserves a preface: this is mostly a note to myself, and is not about anyone in particular.
Constantly, I've been wondering to myself if I should drastically change the way I edit. You know, to be more recognized for my photos -- to really hone in on that "BECKLEY branding." This idea keeps swirling around in my head -- pretty close to the drain honestly -- but there is just something blocking it from drifting out to the wasteland where it belongs. I reiterate to myself, "My brand is what I see; it's how I see it and how I want to portray it." You would never open a Vogue and say to yourself, "Oh I just love Patrick Demarchelier's preset, I wonder if he's selling it on his Etsy site."
SO WHY DOES THIS QUESTION KEEP POPPING UP?!
After mulling it over for a while and mid-photo-editing, I realized that it must be the constant influx of not-that-good photos that I subject myself to every day... really more than every day... I just have a finger-fixation on opening my phone, opening Instagram, and scrolling... every 20 seconds or so. I scroll, I "like," I repeat. What I'm liking is the moment, or the landscape, or the outfit, or the photo itself, but the ultimate act remains undiscerning: scroll, like, repeat.
I follow a nauseatingly large number of people because I wanted to be "well-versed" in the niche market of photographing bloggers and lifestyle campaigns. At first, I was glad to know the reference when my clients said, "I love the feel of that one photo where so-and-so is sitting on a step with her hair kind of in her face and her shoes look really good." And I'd say, "Yes! That was actually at Highland Park Village but we can try to recreate that vibe here on your suburban street..."
Which leads to my point.
There is an access to picture taking like never before. Everyone has a nice camera. Everyone has Lightroom and Photoshop and VSCO and Color Story and whatever else everyone's using to add an obscene amount of grain to every photo. And that is FANTASTIC. (Whatever sarcasm you sense in my voice, it's not there.) I genuinely love that the ability to create and capture is an art that is accessible to nearly everyone.
As Kim Thomas, a photographer from Memphis, phrased it, "There are a ton of photographers [on Instagram] that shoot just to shoot and all have this same aesthetic (filter) and style and it made me question what I was doing, because their following and 'likes' were bigger. But then I realized that I have actual clients and I need to focus on THAT, because that's more important than doing it just for Instagram likes." A reminder that Instagram is just a drop in the ocean of media platforms.
The constant influx of lifestyles captured and posted and captioned and tagged and sponsored is like immersion therapy. The more I see it the more I think it's the norm. Because I know what goes on behind my scenes, I assume the rest of the world takes care to place that mug just right or has their client stand in a place where the light is coming in to highlight the details on her jacket.
Although, for the sake of creating thoughtful content, unfortunately it seems that that's not the case. And that, I suppose, is just it. There's a difference between "content" and "photographs." Maybe that will be the new major in school: Content Management.
As the old adage goes: What you see on the internet is probably not what is going on in real life. I don't know the source, but I believe it's a quote circa 2009 - perhaps Seventeen Magazine did a piece on it.
You do you. And never underestimate the care or lack thereof that went into the beautifully filtered vintage-looking ill-lit photos you'll see today.
AND TO END ON A LESS-SALTY NOTE:
Always push to be the best you can be. The temptation is always present for me to edit a different way, have a heavier hand and make moody photos, try the techniques everyone else is trying. There is nothing wrong with that! Just take time let yourself do these things with passion or excitement and respect for the craft, and don't feel like you have to be any sort of way because the rest of the world is.
Love you all, and never stop capturing the world as YOU see it.