“Validation is for parking” ~ from Steal Like an Artist
This made me laugh, because it’s so true! I often see people grousing that their posted photos aren’t getting enough likes or comments on Instagram. Another popular complaint is that their photos never get featured by any of the toy groups. All I can think to say to this is that you shouldn’t look to Instagram, Flickr, Google, Tumblr or anything else for validation. Because you aren’t going to get it.
What people like or don’t like is a very fickly enterprise. It is based on their own tastes coupled with their own experiences and occasionally these will intersect with what you are creating. Think of it like a vin diagram with a very small sliver of overlap. Whether or not what you are creating is good enough, has nothing to do with it. Being good is only half of the equation.
Oh did I mention luck is the other half? It’s that weird intangible that separates those that get recognized and those that toil away in obscurity. Life is fickle and art is a temperamental task master. So don’t get frustrated, roll with it, and make some art. Trust me, you will feel better.
So get out your toys, have some fun, take some pictures and look for your validation inside yourself. If it makes YOU happy, then it is good enough.
Did you take any toy photography pictures this weekend like Me2 did?
When was the last time you got a parking ticket?
I’ve bored you all enough with my philosophical ramblings. The rest of this week I will be posting on technique. I didm’t play with my camera this weekend, but I did play with my printer. This was almost as good!
I know there is some controversy on Instagram about “likes” and when to give them. I have plenty of friends among my followers who never like any photos and are quite proud of this fact. When they tell me this I just look at them quizzically and wonder “Why?” Why do you even bother participating in this community?
I will freely admit I like almost every photo I run across. Maybe this means my “likes” are meaningless, but they aren’t to me. I am not liking them for there stellar quality or there creativity (even though that is often the case), I am also liking them for the effort. I know how hard it is to get up each morning and be creative. Some days you are more successful than others; and to me it’s the effort that matters most.
I have a friend who works in public relations and one of her duties for her clients is to tell them they are wonderful…every day. Artists are often in a crisis of self confidence, self doubt comes with the territory. Putting your work in the public to be judged is hard on the psyche. Sometimes I want to add her to my payroll so I can have her do this same service for me on a daily basis. I guess I will settle for our occasional beer and pep talks.
So to everyone who shares their images publicly, I applaud you. You are doing the work and it isn’t easy. Know I will always be there to like your photo and cheer you on because we all need a cheering section.
Are you a “happy liker” like me?
Do you have a cheering section to help you get over the rough patches?
My best friend Kitty with her dogs Kipper and Minty.
Sometimes I think the goal is to make a great emotionally packed image and sometimes I don’t. If it was all about the perfect photo then why are we sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr and Google+? These are all social media sites aimed at connecting people with like interests. People you know and people you don’t know…yet.
I recently received in the mail a very special print from +Me2. It is my favorite image of his (amongst many) and I will cherish it for many years. He is someone I wouldn’t even know existed if it wasn’t for this amazing thing we call the internet. This past weekend I went out photographing with good friends, all of whom I have met through the power of social media. A few weekends ago I met a couple of lovely Instagramers from a town three hours away and because of mutual interests became fast friends.
Suffice it to say, my life is filled with new, old and future friends met through my interactions on multiple social media platforms.
I may not be able to sell a photograph to save my soul, but I know my life is all the richer for the friends and connections I have made all over this planet. My only goal now is to make enough money so I can take a world tour and meet everyone in person.
Now that would be a gift of inconceivable value.
What is most important to you as you play on your various social media sites?
Why are you participating?
What does it mean to you?
Now if only Me2 would drop by the blog soon, I am starting to get maudlin. I dread how far I might sink tomorrow.
My husband is constantly telling me that “If you want to know what someone wants to do, then just look at what they are doing. ” Normally he isn’t very perceptive…in this case he is.
I have a wonderful weekend planned that involves a trip to the toy store for photo props, a “photo safari”with three awesome fellow toy photographers, videoing Rodrigo y Gabriela for KEXP and a wonderful dinner with my family for that dreaded US Hallmark holiday, “mother’s day”.
Yup, this weekend is filled with so much awesome, just thinking about it puts a stupid grin on my face.
I haven’t always been this blessed, for much of my life I didn’t even know what happiness was. When you are completely miserable there really isn’t any where to go but up or out.
So I urge you to hang with your friends and whoever you choose to call your family this weekend. Play with your toys, take a few photographs and think about what makes you happy and then go and do it.
If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” – Katharine Hepburn
I can’t tell you how thrilled +Me2 and I are that several awesome fellow photographers have joined our Green Room, introduced themselves and metaphorically lashed their boats too ours. It feels great to begin this journey, where ever it will lead us.
The door is still open for any like minded photographers to join. Check out the Green Room and see who your fellow travelers will be. It’s a chatty and varied group.
In the mean time I hope you will give some thought as to what you would like to be doing with your photography that is not Instagram / internet related. Would you like to learn to print your images? Would you like to exhibit your work? Are you interested in selling or licensing your work? Would you like editing or shooting tips? Do you need help setting up a web site?
Please leave your comments below and I can focus upcoming blog posts based on your interests.
My favorite chapter in Steal Like An Artist is “Geography is no longer our master”. Truer words could not have been published. Only in a world where we can connect socially on so many different platforms that your head starts spinning if you try to name them all, can you make friends all over the globe. Only in this crazy internet focused photography community would I be lucky enough to find a like minded friend on the other side of the world. (Hi +Me2!)
The internet has introduced me to so many great toy photographers who have influenced me over the last several years like Avanaut, Me2 (Again with that guy!), +Alessio Billi and Legojacker. Each, in their own way, they have shown me what the photographic possibilities could be. I have the world wide web to thank for connecting me to these amazing people who have all helped me to be a better photographer.
When I met with the writer Lyn Miller-Lachman (another IG friend) this past February she told me something I have really taken to heart. That we need to make connections beyond ourselves with other platforms and other people if we want to be heard in all the noise created by the internet. By creating a web of connections we are all made stronger for these bonds. Think of it like this: we are all in our own boat, but if we lash them together we will be bigger, stronger and hopefully more visible. Ok, maybe she didn’t say all of that – but that is what I heard. (please forgive me Lynn if I twisted your words!)
So yesterday Me2 asked if there were any like minded photographers out there who are interested in joining this arts collective we call Stuckinplastic and lashing their boat to ours. The silence was deafening. Maybe we asked too soon? Maybe we haven’t been clear about our aims? Maybe there are only two people on all of the IG toy community who are interested in taking their photography off the internet and into the real world? I don’t know, but we will occasionally keep asking until someone bangs on our open door.
In the mean time I will continue to nurture and be inspired by my curent friends as well as find new people to connect with on twitter, flicker, Instagram, Google+…
Some times when Me2 and I debate we have to agree to disagree, but we rarely disagree on the value of Instagram. Of course Instagram will always have a soft spot for me because I met many great toy photographers, like Me2, on Instagram but I also developed my own voice and personal vision.
There is something thrilling about posting images to Instagram and getting instant feedback from your peers. For almost two years I was posting daily pictures to Instagram, participating in the toy photography community, looking at others peoples feeds, trying lots of different styles and generally playing around in a no pressure environment. I have posted comics, interior studio set ups, quickie iPhone photos and over edited shots as I have experimented finding my personal voice. I have also experimented with a variety of Lego mini figures to find the ones that convey what I want say. All this intense editing, shooting and looking helped me to narrow my choices and find my place within this community.
Recently I was asked how I created the image below. The hope was that I could quantify the image into a f/stop, a film speed and an ISO to show others how it is done. But really, the secret is pretty simple: take lots of photographs. Did I say lots of photos? I mean A LOT of photographs, hundreds, thousands, whatever it takes. Of course luck has its place, but with more shooting this becomes less important. After you take a million photos you will know what works and what to avoid.
Sure, knowing the rule of thirds, how to control focus, depth of field and basic editing skills are also essential, but shooting thousands of photos will get you their even faster. And having a place like Instagram to post them is a wonderful outlet to all this content you have created along the way. The feedback (or lack of feedback) you get on your photos is essential. Having a supportive community to cheer you on as you struggle with your personal vision is a pretty heady experience.
So utilize the heck out of Instagram, get involved, share your passion, meet new friends and watch your photography improve along the way. Because Instagram is a great tool to finding your personal vision, becoming a better photographer and improving your editing skills. Plus, its lots of fun!!
I was researching 500px today in my continuing quest to find other amazing toy photographers and I was impressed by the quality of the photos presented. If you are not familiar with 500px it is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr. It also has a secondary feature called 500px Prime which is designed to match advertisers up with photographers happy to sell their photos for $250US. You can purchase royalty free usage of any of these incredible photos, which gives the purchaser the right to use the photo, in any way they see fit, for as long as they want. That is an incredible deal!
If this doesn’t prove my point that photography has been rendered valueless by the sheer volume of images being produced, I don’t know what does.
I think it is time to go back to square one or at least January 1.
My New Years resolution this year was to take myself less seriously and I think it’s high time to revisit this idea. Toy photography should be (and is) fun!
I’m open to a revolution but my revolution will need to include a fair amount of silliness and fun. And maybe, through my lego photos, I can bring a few extra smiles into the world.
Viva la Revolution!!
The future is very foggy right now (per usual). So while waiting for the fog to clear (or someone gives me a better road map) Emmett suggested a trip to the beach. Even though the high was only 59F (15C for everyone else) we still had fun. Emmett enjoyed playing in the sand as I read a book. Hopefully a new course will be set soon, in the mean time I’ll always have Emmett. ~ xxsjc
It seems that Me2 and I are living parallel lives except without the hardware crash. While he awaits jury notification on his entry to Fotografiska I am also on ice for the foreseeable future.
My fate is currently in someone else’s hands and it remains to be seen which way the ice will flow. But either way, the adventure will continue and I will console myself with a lovely cup of tea. I wonder if Sir D is available?