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…but I know it’s OK OK.

Pete Shelley’s writing often contains little pearls of wisdom, and never more so than during the “A Different Kind Of Tension” period. Song after song dealt with the irony of life and its contradictions, but always with a underlying philosophy of finding your own way.

Something to consider.

For a couple of weeks, I dallied with an online photography competition site called Gurushots – I think PetaPixel turned me onto it – before exiting with a faint sense of disgust. Apart from it being yet another very obvious attempt to lure the amateur photographer into the Photoindustrialart Complex, it reeked of conformity with many other popular photography sites that peddle a certain flashy but sterile form of photography.

Another escape. Yet not so long ago I was striving for much the same type of image. Colorful, sharp, attractive in content, digitally pristine, safe.

And I found I could do them. It takes practice and skill, there is no denying that. But the achievement was unsatisfying. I felt that all I was doing was emulating a trend or fashion. The art proved to be profoundly impersonal.

“Hollow inside, I was hollow inside
But I couldn’t find out what the reason was
Why I was hollow inside? I was hollow inside
But I couldn’t find out what the reason was.”

Moreover, I began to realise that this art – the art of popular photography – was generating precisely the same negative emotions that I gained from a certain form of music, the flashy kind, technically perfect but soulless and unchallenging. Where was the equivalent of The Velvet Underground, The Buzzcocks or Arnold Schoenberg in this popular milieu?

There isn’t one. Most popular photography is the equivalent of soft rock and jazz, guitar gods, the more sterile forms of progressive rock, easy listening classical. One only has to look at album art to see the match.

“Where in the world are we?
Everything’s fake nothing’s real
I guess it just depends on how you feel
Why are you wasting my time?”

Why am I wasting my time? I sometimes think the best solution would be to tear myself aware from photo sites and photo clubs. But that would eliminate a social aspect from my photography, and I’m not sure I want to. What I do want to do is feel freer about doing it on my own terms.

Photograph Forest Park Wetland by Richard Keeling on 500px

Forest Park Wetland by Richard Keeling on 500px

So let’s let that be, shall we? (My message to myself, this is.) No more seeking strokes, likes or acclaim and no more caring about the lack of or surfeit of the same. Just take the pictures. I know what I like.