The photo above is the photo I shot yesterday for the Shoot Every Day Project.
Yes, it's a picture of my notebook.
Kiara was just as confused when I returned from the shoot just 10 minutes after I left to create yesterday's photo. If you've just joined on in the blog, I'll bring you up to speed: A little over a week ago, I started a journey of renewing my vision for my future through shooting a new photo every day and writing a new blog post every day, to go with that photo. This project is meant to kick my gears in to overdrive so that I become used to daily content creation again, something I've wanted to do ever since the very first days of my photography career, which began with taking a photo every day for a year. That was 6 years ago.
I haven't been the creator I want to be for a very long time, if ever. The only time I felt even remotely close was when I first started shooting imagery every day, 6 years ago. I can tell you, after what happened to me last night, that what I am doing definitely works. Pushing and shoving against fear and laziness and bad social media algorithms actually pays off, because it gets you to think about who you are, who you want to be, and the bridge in between that is your action to get there.
Let's talk about what vision is, and why I lost it.
Vision is the both the ability to know what you want for your future, and the ability to do what is necessary to get there. Most of the world gets confused on this, because a lot of modern culture is built around derailing any sense of vision within us.
Fast food. Local news. Buy this. Buy that. Microwaves. T.V. dinners. Fake Christmas trees. Factory farms. Wal-Mart. Instant gratification. Gentrification. The educational system. Rules. The list goes on.
I don't think it's a conspiracy, I just think it's natural. Humans follow the path of least resistance - the minimum amount of required effort for us to put out in order for evolution to continue running its course.
I lost my vision because I followed the path of least resistance, and for years now, I have done only what is minimally necessary for my content ecosystem to survive, and nothing for it to thrive. My desire has always been to change the world through positive impact in others - a chain reaction in the way I treat you, and then how you treat another, and then how they treat 5 others, and so on it goes.
I really like applying Sir Isaac Newton's laws of thermodynamics to human existence and action, because I think there's a huge, underlying correlation between the way the earth takes action and the way people take action, too. For example:
If I think about my actions in content creation, it's obvious that, after a year of daily photo creation some 6 years ago, I let external forces stop my forward motion. I slowed down. I lost inertia. I lost vision. And I feel like now, I am finally waking yet again to the purpose of my future. The only difference now is that I am pushing myself in forward motion every day, and because I'm pushing, I'm learning, growing, and most importantly, I am creating.
Here's where my intro story picks up.
For years now, I have created creepy, dark, and sometimes grotesque photos. Not always, but often enough that the style has become a crutch for me. It's not that I think this is bad, or wrong, or not beautiful. It's that it doesn't always align with my vision. And after creating creepier images and pairing them alongside lifestyle images that didn't really work together, I found myself in a Catch-22. I have been creating every day, but I haven't been creating what I should, in my opinion, be creating.
So I grabbed a piece of wardrobe and a prop, kissed Kiara goodbye, and began my drive out to shoot a spooky "scarecrow" styled photo. As I rounded the corner up to the field, I thought about why I was going to create this image... because it didn't have any value for me. It didn't share any of my vision. It was simply so I could create something for the day, for this project, so I could make something.
Here's a new reality: you can create stuff all you want and as much as you want, but you're not going to create something you love unless you have vision for it. Smatter as much paint on your bedroom wall as you want, but if you use too many colors or you don't think about the way you want it to look, you'll just end up with smeared brown walls.
I turned my car around and drove home, deciding that the most important thing I could do for my future as a content creator was, in fact, not to create a photo today. Instead, the most important thing, the thing that is going to have much more impact on my future if I take the time for it, is listing all of the themes I want to create in my photo content. I went home, listed everything out, and by no means exhausted myself in the list... there's still so much I need to write down - but the core concepts are there, and now I have a vision for what I should create, instead of running around trying to create something random.
What I wrote above is exactly what I am going to create from now, forward.
I'm going to shoot photos of time.
and exploration, self reflection, and growth.
heartbreak, romance, exile.
What will you shoot?
It's so easy for us as creators to fall in to the trap of simply trying to create. I hate the idea of trying to make something without having a vision or purpose for what you're making. It's a shame to creation, in my opinion, to try and make anything without first trying to think hard about what it is you want to make, and what impact it will have on those around you - because for what other reason do we share art? We share art so that we can change the world around us for the better.
If you're in that place of lacking vision, stop what you're doing right now, stop reading this blog, go and grab a pen and a paper and list out exactly the things that inspire you, the things you want to create, the ideas you have in your head. Stop simply trying to go and make things if you don't have a purpose or a vision in making them. You're doing yourself much more harm than good.
Go, find your vision, and then create.
A PRO-PHOTOGRAPHER'S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE:
I just launched my 2017 comprehensive Holiday Gift Guide: ALL of the gear I use as a professional photographer to create every image you see on this blog. Find it by clicking the banner below:
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.