Somewhere along the way I became a jaded photographer. Whether it was a few too many Golden Gate Bridge and heavily-processed HDR photos popping up on my social media feed several years ago when digital photography started becoming a mainstream hobby or from befriending too many like-minded photographers who share a similar mindset, I lost interest in looking at landscape photography for quite some time. At one time I used to gain inspiration from viewing others’ landscapes then it became looking at photos with a critical eye to just straight apathy.
I went to Nevada to hike and explore Valley of Fire State Park with a friend of mine a few years ago. My friend is not a photographer and we ended up at a Peter Lik gallery in Vegas. My friend grew up in Chicago and had never really seen much in terms of western landscapes so I could tell that he was amazed by what he saw. I on the other hand was feeling cynical and made some apathetic comments about cliched photos and marketing hype. My friend disagreed.
Now that I reflect back upon that Vegas experience, I’m realizing that I’m the one with a problem not Peter Lik nor my friend’s relative lack of exposure to art. The first time I saw Peter Lik’s work was back in the early-2000’s in San Francisco. I recall being similarly as impressed as my non-photographer friend was because I had not seen a lot of landscape photography up to that point. What happened to that young version of me that was bright-eyed and bushy tailed? It’s important to keep an open mind and find inspiration if we want to progress as artists. Negative energy is counter productive. People who close themselves off end up becoming dinosaurs at some point.
I see some photography lingo these days that appears to have originated from social media sites; words like “burn”, “skunk”, “comp-stomping”, etc… while I have never used these words myself it is a bit of a wake up call that the world moves on whether or not we choose to move with it. If I closed myself off to the photography community for the next 10 years I might not even be able to have a conversation with other photographers. I don’t want to be that way. The best way to influence change is to be actively involved and engaged. If you’re tired of seeing the same photos again and again then do something constructive with that energy and mentor people. Help progress the art. Having a disdainful attitude accomplishes nothing. People don’t want to be around negative energy. Don’t be jaded. Be motivated.