What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. – Kurt Vonnegut

This is an except from a letter written by Kurt Vonnegut to the students of Xavier High School in New York in 2006, the year before he died. I stumbled across this the other day as it was making the rounds on G+ and I thought I would share it here with you.


Because there appears to be a fair number of people participating in  social media who would like to make money from their photography, their writings, their blogs or generally from their creative efforts. Personally I don’t blame them and I’ve felt the same way many times. In the overly commercial world that we live in, it feels like the act of being creative isn’t enough. To have our creative accomplishments valued, it seems they also need to have a price tag attached to them. In a commerce based society, the more money something sells for, the more valuable it must be. Its hard to be practicing an art form that is so ubiquitous, like photography, that it’s nearly valueless.

But I wonder if this quest for money and fame (and followers) through toy photography isn’t a red herring.

Money isn’t why we create. Money isn’t what drives us to make interesting images, to tell stories or to elicit an emotional response from our viewers. We go to all this effort because it feels good. Because it enriches our souls. Because it heals the pain. Because it helps us to know ourselves better. Because it helps us to understand the world we live in. Because we want to share a little bit of ourselves with the world. Because we want to make a connection.

Isn’t it enough to practice your photography for no other reason than to make your soul grow?

Even if no one buys one of your images from RedBubble, or asks you to be in a gallery show, or hires you to take photos for their toy marketing campaign, or gives you free toys in exchange for a few photos, or tips you via your Patreon campaign, or backs your Kickstarter or puts a price on your work through some other means…

Remember, what you’re doing is valuable; you’re creating art. Just do it, keep doing it, do it for the rest of your life.

~ Shelly

Why do you take photographs? 


After 30 years as a photographer, photography still holds a magical quality for me. It still takes my breath away when an image come out better than I had envisioned. As an artist, what more could I ask for?