Come Alive

Does your art excite you? Does the joy or inspiration of your work make you come alive? If not, why do you think it will effect anybody else?

Are you bringing anything?

Your audience can pick up on how you feel about your work. Are you excited? Can you not wait to show this to people? Do you have so much fun doing what you do that you don’t want to do anything else? Why not?

In my opinion, a lot of photographic art I see these days is pretty empty or depressing. Perhaps you are compelled to try to make a statement about environmentalism or social justice. That probably means you should consider yourself a photojournalist. Document your cause if that is what drives you, but can you also bring beauty and interest and hope? Can’t it be visually or emotionally appealing? Just because it is a serious subject doesn’t mean it has to feel like a news story on CNN.

And the post-modernism that prevails leads to banal and emotionally void expressions. Just pointing your camera at 2 guys sitting in their back yard drinking a beer doesn’t necessarily make a picture I feel drawn to look at. And just because you used some forgotten wet plate process to print this image in a gritty, blurry way does not make it more valuable to me. Don’t you have anything to say?

Does your work energize you?

This is your art. What you see and feel. Surely you think it is worthwhile. If not, why are you wasting your time and energy?

I have heard the definition that your art is “what you can’t not do”. This is pretty good. Most of us have to create art. We would go crazy if we couldn’t. There is a drive in us that needs this vehicle of expression.

For me, when I fall into a nest of images I am excited and energized. I lose track of time. Even when I am seeing the images before me, I am planning what i am going to do with them and how I will bring them more to life. It enlivens me.

This is one of the things I love about photography: of all the art forms, this is the one with the least barrier between inspiration and capture of an image. See it, shoot it. No real preparation or long time to produce a work. I am very visual and immediate. It suites my makeup very well.

The great Jay Maisel is a wealth of quotes and wisdom about image making. A couple of favorites I continually remind myself of is “If the thing you’re shooting doesn’t excite you, why makes you think it will excite anyone else?” and “Photography is an act of love.”

Why should people be motivated by your work?

There are billions of photographs out there with billions more being added every day. How can I have anything new to say? What a bleak prospect!

But I occasionally do have something new to bring to people. Those times where I am feeling alive and energized and excited can produce images that will stop people and compel them to look.

I am motivated by this quote:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman


When we’re feeling most alive people can see it in our work. We have something to offer that people need. And it is more satisfying.

So why should people be motivated by my work? I’m an artist. I have a unique and creative point of view and this image was motivated by me bring alive and in touch with what I was feeling. That is hard to find.

Come alive and create exciting art.

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