The act of photography is a relationship with your mind
In today's environment of IOT we have to actively make time to get away from notifications constantly nagging us to interact. What's worse is that many of us feel that we have to participate 24/7 for fear that we'll miss out on something #FOMO which can lead to bouts of anxiety. What we need is presence of mind and reality.
As a young boy I was heavy into painting and other artistic endeavors. Creating something, I would loose track of time and space. I would be in my own reality, manufactured of imagination and thought, separated from the reality of my environment which was at times unpleasant. Growing older, I lost touch with my creative side a bit choosing to go down a different path with some people that were not so nice. When they took their activities to the next level I quickly realigned my path to do something more productive and legal. I got into photography as a young adult and found that sacred space in my own mind when I was behind the camera. Looking through the viewfinder of my SLR was like looking through a peep hole, I felt detached from the world while at the same time hyper focused to my environment. Once again I was creating not just art but my own world and I was happy being lost in that mindspace. I loved the act of photography so much that I chose to dedicate my life to it.
Like many people, in 2008 business got scary slow. It was during this hard time that I decided to add an additional element to my work - video and shortly after social media. What I was not expecting was that my gateway to the drug of social media, the iPhone, would also be my worst temptation to break that connection with photography. Between the constant nagging of notifications, the illusion of a connection with people on Facebook, I felt compelled to check my device constantly. This time in my life was probably the worst in terms of creative development. Checking my device constantly meant that I had little time to explore my creative mind with photography. That peephole into the world became a screen and my creating within this tiny world was nearly impossible. I had destroyed that sacred space and the relationship in my mind was fractured.
Thanks to the smartphone, Facebook and the illusion of connecting with people, I began to dislike photography. There's been two times in my life when I almost gave up the profession of image making: When the economy got slow and there simply was not budget for photography. If you have a business and there's not much of a market for the goods or services being sold it's understandable that you would consider pulling out. The second time was due to my addiction to the smart phone, social media and an overwhelming feeling of #FOMO. Business was ok but this time I wanted to leave the business because I associated photography with smart phones and social media both of which have no place in the sacred space of my mind.
Because I spent years being present to what's in front of the camera and within my mind I took notice of what was happening with me. The idea of giving up photography because of an inanimate object or some lines of code was an exercise in madness. The #FOMO was also a bullshit fallacy, an illusion in my mind, the same mind that held such power to transform my life was being manipulated to make myself believe in the illusion. That was worse than a smart phone or social network because #FOMO didn't start with with socials, it began long ago with television and advertising. I've not had any broadcast television for over a decade which has been one of the best decisions in my life. I'm still able to watch as much crap programs (or good ones) as I like but I'm not angry at the TV if I don't like how I feel after I watch a episode or movie. It also helps that my my household is free of any TV's.
Armed with this knowledge I took a month long social media detox which reset my mind and cleared out that scared space for good stuff. It was like getting out of a shitty relationship: at first it sucked but eventually you realize it's for the best.
For the last couple years I've been moving back to the basics of photography and rebuilding that sacred space in my mind. It began with embracing minimalism in my home, a move that my wife and I embraced wholly. We do enjoy being good consumers but we don't over consume. If we forget we had a product of if we lost something we donate it when we find it. How many pairs of shoes do we really need? How many camera bags do I have to have for an assignment? Do I have to be connected to the Internet to make a photograph?
Being present to life in general is a skill that takes time to develop. We're born with presence but overtime we can become a sleep walker, not even knowing we've become so.
Like meditation, the act of making a photograph can put you in touch with that sacred place in your mind. Few things in modern life can do this but when you're able to be present and in touch with your mind note that activity so you don't forget. You'll want to do that often.