How much time do we spend trying to emulate film aesthetic? Or trying to copy the style of a photo we saw on social media? How much time do we waste reading reviews for equipment we don’t need and we will surely never buy? How much time watching informative videos that give us no actual information? How much time is lost following tutorials for techniques we don’t need and we’ll never use?
And yet, we do all that. I am also guilty of it — and over the years I wasted so much time that way, and I occasionally still do. Internet is just too tempting, isn’t it?
While browsing through posts and YouTube videos, an impression emerges: it seems as if creating photos — fragments of frozen reality, abstraction — a reflection on the nature of time — became secondary to photography.
Camera gear, trendy pseudo vintage aesthetics, software innovation: that’s what is being spoken about and what now occupies so much of our time devoted to photography.
Long ago I realised I was spending more time tweaking the Color Profile 2 of my Olympus Pen-F than using it for shooting photos — and while such activities can be meaningful if done with a definite goal, it’s not hard to separate useful ones from pure procrastination.
In reality, I know I don’t need to riffle with these color parameters — and I definitely don’t need to mimic Kodachrome or whatever I think I need.
I am in no way judging who is researching and wanting to achieve a definite look: such achievements require lots of efforts and can be a legitimate choice — if there is a reasoning behind them. A real need.
What I am talking about and rejecting is aimlessly wasting time while browsing knowledge with no real goal: information consuming for consuming’s sake.
We could argue that as photographers, planning and taking photos is what matters the most. Being there. Putting in front of the lens something worth capturing — at least, something worth for us. Finding or creating the right light. And so on.
Still, we are being targeted with easy to digest knowledge that is often inherently poor, oversimplified, pointless — and we use so much of our time watching that instead of creating and growing accord to what we really are.
I think going around and taking photos — even just for the fun of it — especially or the fun of it! — is often a better activity for increasing our knowledge. Only by being out and experiencing the light and actual technical issues we can progress according to our reality.
Trying to learn all that YouTube throws at us because “maybe one day I coudl need that” is not a good time management strategy. At the same time, spending time browsing social media instead of creating is also a bad strategy — but I already wrote about it in another post.
Knowledge requires time to be acquired, and it often hides behind years of failures, behind hard to read books, behind boring and definitely not glittery essays.
To act, to study, to fail: that’s where the heart of photography is — at least, that is my point of view on the matter.
For these reasons I became more selective when deciding if and which YouTube videos to watch, which tutorials to follow, which books to read.
I wish someone told me that when I was much younger — that time is in constant motion and it is not infinite, and we must decide how to use it according to some goal.
Watching videos that are supposed to be informative is tricking our brain into thinking that we are doing something worthwhile — but if we stop and think about what we are watching and why, we can easily understand we don’t really need most of that information, and these hours spent watching it are lost giving us no benefit.
I am convinced being curious and wishing to learn is a gift. After all, wanting to learn about everything and putting no limits to the range of his curiosity is what defined the genius of Leonardo.
But during Renaissance they didn’t have Internet and they were not bombarded by a constant flow of competing content creators, fighting for our attention. So it’s up to us how to manage our curiosity and balance it with the abundance of knowledge.
We entered an era in which selecting the knowledge to learn became an art on itself — an art we should master, as photographers in the contemporary digital era.
I am hosting a Ukrainian refugee family, and you can help us!
As many of you already know, I am hosting a Ukrainian refugee family with a one year old baby. I managed helping them escape war and reach Italy — I luckily have a little country home for them to stay as long as needed, where they can enjoy nature and safety, far from war.
Many of you already helped and we are so thankful for this display of kindness and empathy! Donations are still welcome and extremely important, becasue there is so much to buy and pay for.
I am using the donations wisely and doing my best for getting the most out of your generosity.
Thank you from the deep of our hearts.