Expressing Joy

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and beaten down by life. But how can we do our art if that is our attitude? It is hard for me because my art is an expression of joy and wonder, not a gloomy negative presentation. If we take a wider view, I believe we will be a better person if we go through our life expressing joy and that should infuse our art.

Beautiful world

It truly is a beautiful world we live in. Sometimes we don’t apply our attention to actually seeing it. It is too easy to get caught up in our problems and go through life with our head down, internally focused.

Go look. Really look.

Where I live I can see mountains, plains, forests, wide open spaces, all basically from my house. If you are in a city you can find parks or greenbelts, bike trails or walking trails, beautiful art and architecture. You can probably find trees and flowers and rivers or oceans close by. We can always just look up at the sky, day or night, and marvel.

Where you are probably has some distinctive characteristics. Learn to see and appreciate them. Mountains are beautiful. Deserts are beautiful. Rolling hills and forests and oceans are beautiful. It is a matter of getting in tune with what is around you. Almost everything can be beautiful in its own way. I won’t argue what “beauty” is, but most people share a view that nature is beautiful.

It is popular these days to see the world negatively. That everything is polluted, global warming is destroying the environment, humans have wrecked the world, the government is not doing enough to fix things. Maybe. There are problems, but decide to see beauty, too. Choosing to see good where we can is not a head-in-the sand attitude. It is self preservation. Besides, nothing is ever as bad as news channels and extremists on either side want you to believe. Look and decide for yourself.

Beautiful life

You’re alive. Life is a precious and beautiful thing. This is our only chance at life. We are living our life right now, this is not a rehearsal. Don’t let it slip by unnoticed. Seize the day.

Each day is precious. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. Find the good in every day and hour.

We can live our life bemoaning all the problems there are or we can choose to take a positive attitude. We can’t change the world, but we can make our lives and the environment around us better.

Next time you are wishing you could change the world, let the sound of your laughter emerge. Be caught smiling, giggling, singing. Demonstrate joy.

Tania Carriere

Something my wife taught me is that we shouldn’t act like we feel. We should act the way we want to feel. Our actions go a long way to determining how we feel. Sounds like some kind of new age hokum, but actually it is true.

Joy of creating

How does this relate to art? I guess it depends on who you are and what you do. I do not relate to or agree with postmodernist,  metamodernism, post-postmodernism views or any of their spinoffs. To me they are bleak and empty, lifeless and devoid of hope or joy. As art, they do not make the world better. They spread depression.

I need to feel that my art will improve us, or at least our attitude. And I need to feel affection or affinity with my subjects. Without that, I am not drawn to shoot or process with any enthusiasm. That does not mean the subjects need to be “beautiful” in any conventional sense, just that I am drawn to them. Even if it is an old rusty car or a dilapidated shack, I need to feel attracted to it. I need to fall in love with my subject and see it in a joyful and positive mindset. Like the great Jay Maisel said, “Photography is an act of love.” and “What you’re shooting at doesn’t matter, the real question is: ‘Does it give you joy?’“.

Art is a creative activity. To me, creation is a positive thing. It is difficult for me to “create” when I feel the outcome is negative and depressing. I am constantly asking myself why I am shooting this and how can I bring what I feel to my viewer. Any image I show you I hope is uplifting in some way.

Joy is an attitude

We tend to confuse the notions of joy and happiness. They are very different. I am happy when I look in my wallet and find $20 I didn’t know I had. I am happy when the sun shines nicely and warms the day up, or I sit down to a nice meal. The stock market being up makes most of us happy. These are all external events we do not control. Things that happen to us.

Joy, on the other hand, is an internal decision. It comes from within us, based on our attitudes and values, not just feelings. It actually is a decision. We decide to be joyful or not. It may not be a conscious decision for many of us, but it is our decision.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Mr Franlk was writing this based on observing extreme circumstances: people in Nazi concentration camps. The point being, no matter what circumstances are pressing on us, we are free to choose our response, our attitude.

I have to choose an attitude of joy and wonder to do the work that wants to come from me. My art seems to be tied to that.


I cannot make art unless my head is in the right place. A significant part of getting my head in the right place is having a joyful attitude. When I am expressing my joy, I feel most creative and alive.

For me, I have to get out and explore to find images. But when I am out, if I am not grounded by joy, I seldom am drawn to subjects to shoot. Being out where the images are is necessary, but I have to see and feel them. I find that without joy, I don’t recognize or feel enthused to make images.

My art is an expression of joy. This is the way I work. Your mileage may vary.

This image

This is joy? Yes, to me and for me.

It is in a small town in Italy. A miserably hot day (at least 100F). I was trudging back to the hotel, dying from the heat. But looking down this side street, this group of old friends was making the best of it, enjoying each other’s company as they have probably done for decades. It was a shady spot with some breeze. Probably the most comfortable place around. They knew how to cope with it. And how to live a good life with joy.

After seeing this and capturing it, I felt better, too. Expressing joy is contageous

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