Cascadia Obscura

The stories behind some of my favorite photos and trips...

Why do I do this?

“This” is a disappearing act from from social media or just from the outside world in general. It’s usually never anything major like crippling depression, illness, but rather just a lot of plates to keep spinning and daily life getting in the way of the art. And I know that if you really want something you do it and you make time for it, no matter what. And I have, I just haven’t felt like sharing it. And that’s the problem.

My photography has always been for me, but I want to share it with others. I love it. I believe subjectively it’s beautiful work and objectively it’s well photographed with solid composition and execution that went into the work. And for those reasons I’d like others to see it, to be inspired by it, to purchase it if they’d like to support me. But a lingering fear is that it’s not good enough and I worry that what I’m putting it out there doesn’t match the effort and time and expense that I put into making these pictures; like I should have made something “better.” And also, I know that it’s just another picture in a social media feed where the “look at me” vibe runs deep, which is problematic for someone who prefers to quietly make his way through life. So, I just opt out of participating and my social media feeds go dark for some period of time, which in this case was about a year. 

We each use social media and our online presence for different purposes. Some chronicle their life for all to see, from the mundane check in at a sandwich shop to the birth of their new child and all concerts, memes and memories in between. Some use it to promote goods or services while some use it to share their work or their art. For those of us in the last category, social media and an online presence can be difficult. You spend so much time and effort and put so much of yourself and your heart into the work and you lay it out there for the world to see and appreciate. Or worse, you put it out there for the world to neither see nor appreciate, asking yourself what’s worse: to be seen and disliked or not seen at all? Nobody can ever truly appreciate how much you put into your work and selfishly (or out of fear) it’s easy to make the decision to just not share it, either because you don’t want to face the rejection or criticism, or because it would break your heart to see all your time and hard work and baring your soul in a photographic work flanked by a picture of an almond cake hashtagged to no end with 25k likes and a blurry selfie taken in front of a historical landmark in Europe.

That’s what happened to me, the feeling of being marginalized. While I’ve been busy with life and certainly have not shot as much as I have in years past, I still shot plenty of photos last year, several of which I think are some of the best I’ve ever made. But because part of me never feels that they’re as good as those from the people I look up to and that they’re going to be lumped in with people who use photography as a form of communication rather than an art, I didn’t share anything.

But I see things differently, now. I’ve embraced that my photos aren’t perfect and they never will be, that perfection in art is a purely subjective thing and that it’s the pursuit of perfection that’s worth sharing and what I’d like people to see in my photography. It’s not a competition and we each put out our best work and while we can quibble over the objective elements of photography—composition, exposure, framing, etc.—ultimately it doesn’t matter, only that you’re proud of what you’ve done, and I am.

 I’ve re-branded myself, my photography, and created a space that I feel best shares my work with the world, where it’s allowed to shine and be seen somewhere online other than a social media feed facilitated by corporations who are hungry for your data. I’ll still use social media but to direct people to somewhere that my art can be seen how I intend for it to be seen. 

And maybe most exciting in all of this are my ultimate intentions to share my photography through actual photographs hanging on walls in public places where people can experience them in their full-sized glory are in the works. With cameras being on every phone, every computer, refrigerators and all manner of other devices and in a world where photography has become a form of communication, photography isn’t as special as it once was and I want people to experience a print hanging on a wall as a piece of art, which is why I do this.

So if you’re still here after a year hiatus (and still reading this after a lengthy blog post), I thank you for sticking with me and look forward to sharing my work with all of you.

 

 

Bryan Mills