I can – and do – spend a lot of time thinking and writing critically about aspects of photography that both please and displease me.
But for all those words, the essence of photography and why I keep doing it is joy. Photography is – and should always be – a pleasure first and foremost. For this reason I refuse to go professional and turn down the vast majority of requests for my services as a photographer. I also find myself pulling away repeatedly from my photographic community. I usually return for a while but always with one foot resting by the door. I really don’t like photographic situations where I feel my sense of artistry is being compromised, a major reason why I feel so ambivalent about and frequently hostile towards photography competitions.
These days, thanks to sites such as this one, it’s not necessary to bend to some other person’s rules and likes to get your work into a public forum. This freeing of art from much of the restrictive access that used to constrain it has both advantages and disadvantages, but on the whole being I consider being able to bypass the editor’s or the critic’s filter is a benefit. To be true, a lot of uninspired and derivative work is now out there for anyone to see – if they can find it – but so what? What may seem trite to one viewer may be deeply meaningful to the artist behind it, and that meaningfulness transcends all. Expression for everyone is a goal to be encouraged. Repression does no one any good at all.
So keep at it, all you photographers. Embrace the joy.