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Wetland Path by Richard Keeling on 500px.com

I continue swerving, much as I do when I’m riding my bike over a muddy wetland path, between competing aspects of my photography.

On one side, I want to make popular pictures. Literally popular, the ones that get the oohs and aahs and the likes on web pages. On the other side, I want to make personal pictures, pictures that resonate with my life and its history. Sometimes the two coincide. But not very often.

In my heart, I know that photography simply to gain approval is a complete dead end artistically. All I’m really doing here is propping up my insecurities. Very few of the photographs that I’ve taken in the past that fall into this category have any meaning for me today. Ultimately, all I got was a short term buzz that evaporated too quickly.

I’m self-aware enough to be fully cognizant of this personality trait, yet does it stop me seeking that very same approval? No. I still want my oohs, aahs and likes. It’s an addiction that I find very difficult to shake.

But I’m trying. Particularly over the past year, I’ve been to some extent avoiding what one might call local beauty spots or photo ops and simply been documenting my usual daily existence. This had produced an extensive repertoire of photographs of much the same scenes, albeit at different times of year and under differing conditions. None – or few at least – have much affinity to what might be called popular photography.

There are more like a diary – a record of my days. Never before have I been so thorough or consistent in collecting such images, and looking back through the growing collection, I see multiple near-duplicates. But unlike the duplicates that are so easy to rapidly gather with a digital camera as the shutter finger takes over, each one is stamped, however subtly, with an individuality that is a product of its place and time.

At some point, when I am ready, I will take stock of these photographs and consider what to do with them. A collage might be very effective as a visual snapshot of lengthy period of time. Or something else perhaps. Whatever it is, the material I’ll need continues to accumulate and this is satisfying on a deep level. I’m growing something here. It will be most fulfilling to see it flower.