Remembering What You Love

Remembering What You Love

I love photography. But, sometimes, I need to remind myself of that simple truth.

Going for my MFA in Photography was one of the best decisions of my life so far. However, it also has been one of the most challenging experiences. I was totally pumped for the experience of talking about photography all of the time and thinking more deeply about my work and pushing the boundaries of my knowledge of the medium 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s like being in a relationship: you wanna be with that person all of the time because they make you feel good.

But then the honeymoon phase is over. Their endearing laugh becomes annoying and you really wish they would stop eating the last of your tortilla chips. The same thing happens in graduate school, I think: you come in to study your subject because you love it, but you end up feeling like you wanna break up with it by the time you get your degree.

When you make photographs for months on end that have to mean something, that have to be drenched in art history and critical theory, your brain can get tired. Every time you look through the view finder of a camera, every line, shape, and shadow has to mean something. It gets exhausting.

I’ve felt this way sometimes. And that’s okay– it’s totally normal, and I’ve found ways to combat it. Over the winter break, I decided to make photographs because I felt like it– not of any particular subject matter, not because I had a conceptual reason, but because I love photography and I like to make pretty pictures.

I was privileged enough to be able to travel over the holiday. I went to Washington D.C. and I made pictures like a proper tourist– and I loved it. I loved looking at my photographs, of feeling a sense of accomplishment over my well-constructed image of Arlington National Cemetery. I was giddy over the lighting, the juxtapositions, the little things I love about photographs that make my heart happy.

Arlington had blessed me with the best light ever.

The best part was I made photographs because I wanted to, and not because I had to. I made good photographs because I am a good photographer, even though they weren’t AT ALL related to my thesis work. Picking up my camera and just shooting what I pleased was a nice way to remind me that yes, I do adore this medium. It was all the refresher I needed to get back to cranking out the more difficult photographs this semester.

“Go stand under that triangle.” “Why?” “Because whatever.”

So, feeling discouraged? Go do what you love without any inhibitions, and you’ll be fine.