Here we are in a brand new year and what do you know, we are the same people as we were a few days ago. Always the same story with a slight variation. I may have no resolutions this year, but I do have resolve. Every new year is a reminder that time never waits for us to make up our minds, it just keeps on ticking. If anything, the new year is an excuse to reflect on how far we have come and imagine how much further we have yet to go. One step forward, a glance back, and we are on our way to any other day.
When I think back on 2014 as a whole I find myself lingering a couple of broad observations which are probably more relevant to my own personal viewpoint than that of your own.
One involves the wider spread popularity of a bespoke lifestyle. Discovering the best of the best has become commonplace for many of us. Sites and bloggers who feature their favorite affiliate links started to pop up right and left. Not that this did not exist before, I just feel as though it has reached a tipping point. The amount of ‘my favorite thing’ lists and ‘best of everything’ sites has given me pause coming into the new year as my eyes gloss over any best of lists I come across.
I once had a lot of fun seeking out cool new things all the time. Gadgets, tools, applications, clothing, accessories, anything and everything, it’s nice having the best of any one idea because you know it will last, and work well over time. Over the years I have refined my taste in every obscure corner of my life and I am well aware of what I like and why. A connoisseur of virtually every random menial task in my life.
The only caveat within the sustainability of this trend toward niche product categories is that by living a life surrounded by only the best things for any one need then eventually we will have enough of what we need and clever ideas start to seem redundant once we give ourselves permission to feel satisfied with things we already own. When we surround ourselves by want it’s natural to buy into it, even if on a subconscious level. The thrill of the hunt and staying hip and relevant is a carrot that will forever be just out of reach.
Lately the more I browse through cool new things online, the more it all blurs together. So, while I will admit am still a sucker for the latest and greatest I have caught myself becoming less and less interested in sites that constantly feature new products because it is starting to make me feel as though I will never catch up.
There is one other subject that I have been thinking about coming into the new year. I feel as though, in 2014, photography reached another period of convergence. Not unlike when digital cameras first started to be accepted as a viable replacement to our trusty old film cameras, there is no longer much of any distinction between photographers who choose to shoot with a “proper” camera versus those using ones attached to a mobile phone. The same goes for those of us who still choose to shoot and develop film, it is all a means to reach an end and in the face of digital post processing presets becoming what is more or less “digital film,” there is little reason to criticize any photographer for their choice of format. The only real difference can be found at the end goal of any photographers output whether that be a magazine cover, on a gallery wall, or simply posted to Instagram.
We are moving into a post format era of photography where what we shoot with is irrelevant in the face of ones personal vision. An interesting side effect to this has me thinking as well. There is such a huge amount of brilliant photography coming from all corners of the world that when I glance through highlights on VSCO, flickr, or Instagram It has become difficult to tell the difference between photographers.
I remember discovering interesting new photographers based on their distinct styles yet now we are so heavily influenced by one another and the tools we use are so similar that it’s getting increasingly hard to find such distinction between shooters. Maybe you’re thinking I have a jaded point of view, but you have to admit, it is getting harder to find photographers with a unique output. I admire artists who take chances. Those who find ways to express themselves by exploring what photography is able to help them learn about themselves and the world around them then share their findings with the rest of us. A thirst for curiosity, a gravitation toward wit, a sense of awe for the beauty hiding in light and shadow; attributes such as these are easy to romanticize but surprisingly difficult to harness.
Moving into the new year, I look forward to exploring what it means to be a photographer in todays world and what it takes to stand out among literal floods of images that consume our minds from day to day. Is it possible to break free of the double tap instant like lifestyle and find honesty, curiosity, and awe in photography again? I have a couple of ideas that may finally see the light of day this year that I’m hoping will bring back a sense of connection between myself as a photographer and those who support my efforts and its an exciting prospect to see them through after endless planning and second guessing.
Sitting here a few days into the new year, finishing up editing these loose ideas together I already feel as though 2014 is an abstract thought, lost in the obscurity of photographs, stories, and hazy memories, heres hoping for a great set of new ones in 2015. Cheers.
(The image above can be found as a wallpaper using the links below.)