We all know that one person who, when out with a group of people, spends a generous amount of time taking aesthetic photos of plants, trees, people, chairs, et cetera. That is most likely the same person who needs to get a shot of the table of food when out grabbing a bite to eat with friends. Occasionally, you may see the hashtag #vscocam follow a mildly-obscure-almost-pretentious caption on their artsy photos on Instagram, and you’ll find a lot of their photos are geotagged at either a trendy restaurant or in a city-comma-state you may or may not have heard of. My friends, I would like to shamelessly admit that I am that person, and I am here to explain myself, as well as the rest of the community of wannabe photographers on Instagram.
The truth is, I’ve probably stood on too many chairs when trying to photograph a table full of food. I’ve contorted my body into the most uncomfortable positions in order to get the right angle for a shot. I’ve probably turned one too many heads and rolled one too many pairs of eyes when the words “Wait, let me get a photo” escaped my mouth. I’m the person who probably takes it a step too far, taking far too many photos of one thing only to post one photo on Instagram. I’ve been made fun of and mocked by many people, whenever I pull my phone out to photograph a dumb wall or a cup of coffee. I’m sure photos of me hunched over a plate of food have made it onto plenty of strangers’ Snapchats with the caption “lol who does this clown think he is.”
To be absolutely and unapologetically honest, I don’t care.
Why do I spend so much time trying to get the perfect shot of a subject? Why do I think people want to see photos of my food or my cup of hella pretty latte art? Why do I go through extreme, oftentimes weird, lengths in order to get a photo of something that people most likely won’t care about? Have I photographed, edited, and filtered my way to being just another basic millennial? (Just then, a gasp is heard over a crowd of pumpkin spice latte-drinking, selfie-taking individuals in the distance).
The truth is that if I know I’m going to get a dope photo of something, I will do whatever it takes to get that photo. To me, Instagram is more than just a platform to post selfies and group photos. As trite as this may sound, a photo of a plate (or plates) of food or a cup of coffee, is so much more than just that. In my eyes, taking photos is one of the many ways I am able to express myself, just like people use other mediums like music, drawing, and what have you to express themselves. Others use physical activities like running, boxing, or working out, as a means to let out pent up aggression. I use outlets like Instagram and Word Press to release the creative energy that would otherwise be left to collect dust in the recesses of my mind.
Just like I try to find the good in every person I meet, I try look for the beauty in everything I see, whether it’s a concentrated area of flowers or a pastry on a plate – which probably explains why people find me staring into space so often. More often than not, these things that I find aesthetically pleasing just by looking up and around find their way onto my Instagram. I don’t take photos for any kind of recognition, and I don’t take photos for anyone but myself. Sharing these things on Instagram is my way of letting people see things how I see them, and adding filters to these photos is my way of bringing out the beauty hidden in them. I share these photos to hopefully inspire people to try and find their own definition of beauty in their own lives.
People respond to photography, music, and other forms of art in their own way. Art has a way of triggering certain emotions, feelings, and memories within different people, and that is what I find so beautiful about it, and that is why I’m so adamant about getting the right shot of a certain subject. In a society where millennials are notorious for being a self-absorbed generation, I try to be conscious of what I post, making sure no undertones of “hey look at how great I think I am by eating at this place that no one has ever heard of.” If you thumb through my photos, selfies are kept so few and far between – if anything, I feel more comfortable standing on a chair in a public setting to take a photo of a table of food than I would taking a selfie in my own bedroom. I try not to riddle my Instagram with “It’s such a beautiful day outside so here’s a photo of me” posts or selfies in my car – but if you are one of those people, congrats on reaching that level of self-confidence – because to me, that’s not a satisfying enough means to express my creativity.
If it weren’t for smartphones and social media platforms like Instagram, I’d still be going around taking photos – I’d just be doing it with my DSLR instead of my phone. Technology has made it so that I don’t have to lug my giant camera everywhere with me, given the chance I find something worth photographing. Despite the fact that I pretty much put a good chunk of my life online on this blog, I try not to use Instagram and other social media to document every waking moment of my life – I’d like to think I exhibit some level of humility.
So to those whose self-consciousness is getting in the way of doing something great – whether it’s having an aesthetically pleasing Instagram profile, or putting yourself out there in some other capacity – if you know that something great will come of it, nothing should get in the way of you living your life. I’m sure many people will still groan, “There goes Walter doing his thing again,” as I pull out my phone to take a photo of a leaf or something, but at the end of the day, it’s my own creative satisfaction that I’m striving towards, and no one else’s.