I ‘started’ photography in year 2011. It was an on and off kind of hobby and I wasn’t serious about it until December 2015.
Till now, I have limited skill on photo editing with Lightroom and I do not know how to use Photoshop. I feel that overly-edited photos are low-class which surprisingly are what most people adore??? Nonetheless, I know it is possible to create a professional photograph without touching Photoshop.
Anyway, I find that if I don’t overly edit my photos (I still do very very minimum editing on my digital images) or convert them to HDR, my friends don’t ‘like’ them when I share them on social medias. This discourages me and I feel demoralised about my photography.
Then, I decided to try film because I love things with history and the effect is not achievable with digital manipulation.
As a norm in this era, I created an Instagram account (@filmbasedtraveler) to showcase my photos. I do a little of social media marketing where I put a series of hash tags so like-minded can find my photos. Otherwise I’d just received spammy likes from spammers. I also follow accounts that have similar style as mine (street photography at the moment), and like photos which caught my attention. Two months later, I have 188 followers but the genuine followers only make up small portion of it.
I didn’t broadcast to my friends about my film photography project.
To feel the peace
Who doesn’t like ‘likes’? The more ‘likes’ you get, the more pleased you are. Wrong. I feel that this is toxic. I find myself checking and monitoring the number of ‘likes’ I received. On some days, the numbers are high and I was thrilled. Other days, the numbers are low and I was sad.
Why must we let a virtual number to decide our happiness and the quality of the photos? It’s not a photo contest where all the ‘likes’ are given by professional photographers.
I also feel that ‘likes’ represents your status and popularity among the people you know. A meaningless photo taken by a popular chap can receive hundreds of ‘likes’ but a nicely composed photo by an ordinary friend was not appreciated.
Then, I also feel sad when I saw friends that I thought were closer to me did not ‘support’ my photos but liking a random photos by someone else they are not close to, just because they are more popular among the peers.
In order not to feel the sadness, I did not tell anyone about my @filmbasedtraveler account. Ever since, I have not traced who ‘like’ or didn’t ‘like’ my photos.
To focus on creating good photographs that I adore
Following from the point above, some posts can achieve high ‘likes’ while others cannot. This causes myself to think in my head ‘Hey, I can gain many likes for this shot’ when reviewing from the LCD screen. This is equally toxic because it causes me to judge my photos based on the number of ‘likes’ I received. It prevents me to snap a certain shots just because my mind told me that this won’t receive many ‘likes’.
Photography is personal
When we buy a camera, why were we so happy?
Because the camera is ours and we love it. So when you snap a photo you like, you should be pleased with yourself. Why must we care if others like it or not? They did not give me the hundreds to buy the camera. They did not pay for your hard disk. They did not appreciate the time I take to produce the photos. They have no connection with your work at all.
Of course, it would be a different story if your client pay you for your photography service.
Hence, instead of only taking things for the sake of others, snap something that makes your heart sings. My friends might not appreciate my street photography, but the like-minded would. Myself would. Furthermore, as I have started snapping films, I make sure to dedicate part of the films to snap my family, my cat and my loved one. Then, I will print them out and put them into an album. As for the street shots, I just store the scanned photos into my hard disk. For the film negative, I couldn’t bother to organise them.
However, I have a wish. I hope maybe 50-100 years later, someone would manege to come across my film negative, scan them out, and see the world I saw when I was younger/alive. How did I come up with this wish? Because I attended an exhibition and saw a series of photos from the early days Singapore and I thought ‘did the person who shot this ever thought their photos would tell the story to the later generations 50 years later?’
Keep shooting! Shoot what you love. Shoot what you find interesting! It won’t cost you anything if you keep pressing the shutter on digital cameras. When it comes to film, it’s up to you whether you think a certain shot is worth the 60 cents.
Be yourself. It’s when you accept yourself that you will also accept your photography. Be free. Don’t let your nose led by the trend.