Currently, I'm making my way through the book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It's the perfect book for me, since I'm a chronic procrastinator. If I know there's something I need to do, I find another project to work on to distract myself, which really results in nothing getting finished or done super well. Pressfield refers to the force that keeps you from your work as esistance. The Resistance and I have a pretty off and on relationship (mostly on), but I'm learning that there are ways to defeat it.
I also checked out an old podcast interview on Chase Jarvis Live with Chris Buck. I somehow wasn't super familiar with Buck's work, but it's right up my alley. If you don't know, Chase Jarvis, like most mainstream photographers these days, is really into the idea of mobile photography. Buck, however, is not an advocate for the "art" of smartphone photography.
His reason? Buck believes that iPhone photography is procrastinating real photography work. Why spend time making photos that look like they're taken by amateurs when you can get in the studio and make professional looking stuff? This statement may have angered you; personally, it blew my mind.
The second he used the word "procrastinating" my ears perked up. I know for a fact I'm guilty of that. I also know that when I have an assignment or something to work on, I begin busying myself with other things that seem easier or more fun. Could iPhone photography be that thing? (Just caught myself picking up my phone to check out Instagram in the middle of typing this post)
Now, not all iPhone photos look like amateur shots, obviously. I know some people have serious skill on the platform. (Although, don't be deceived by the "Instagram aesthetic". One day I'll finish my controversial piece about my theory on that.) I think what Buck means by "real work" is the stuff you're passionate about or is important, not the empty snapshots or selfies you post every day.
I don't wholeheartedly agree that mobile photography is total procrastination. It can be a great marketing tool, and really humanizes who you are if you share bits of your life with followers. The world we live in requires freelancers to have an online presence. Also, some people use their mobile photography in ways that are mind-blowing or for their "real work". There are always exceptions to the rule.
I think the reason this resonated with me is because, yes, the 365 is a personal project, but it doesn't have a super cohesive concept or consistency. It's a years worth of random ideas I get every day, with a thin theme surrounding it. I haven't necessarily worked on a true photo series or project in a year or two. When I post that photo on Instagram or Snapchat (yes, I've been using snapchat, but that's yet another post I need to write about. discussing social media is just such a tired topic these days) I get that dopamine boost and satisfaction of thinking I did something creative today. Really though, I just took a pretty clean landscape shot in 2 seconds, or a picture of a distant figure in a grassy field. I really takes no brain power.
I've been fooled that posting on Instagram or online every day is "real work", but I still see it's importance. This whole thing just made me realize I haven't worked a photo series I'm passionate in a while, and I really need to rectify that. I know I dropped some pretty big claims without backing, but I'm still working out my thoughts on some of those ideas. (The "Instagram Aesthetic" thing has been on my mind forever, I just don't want to type out something that just sounds super negative. I'd rather write it in a way which is helpful rather than exclusively critical.)
Anyway, rambling aside. If you find yourself procrastinating, or you make art at all, go read The War of Art. It really is helpful and helps you identify those things that you didn't even know were products of slacking off.