Momentum is a funny thing.
It’s one of those phenomena in life that come in waves. Sometimes you have a bunch of it and you’re flying. Other times you have none of it and you start wonder why.
I wanted to write this post before I hit 10,000 followers on Instagram, but momentum has been on my side both in what I’m pursuing inside (UX) and outside (photography) of work. Momentum got the best of me which is why I haven’t blogged (amongst other things) in awhile, and I’m sorry about that. It’s a good thing, though. It means life is rich and I’m enjoying myself.
So, 10,000 followers. Achievement unlocked, yay!
(actually, I’ve always been a Playstation fan, but I like xbox’s wording of achievements over trophies #nerdlife)
Thank you so much for everyone who has followed my journey so far, and everyone who supports the things I do. It’s you guys that keep my momentum burning, and I’m so very grateful for it. I really am.
Getting the ball rolling
My photography journey started last year. My ex bought me an Olympus E-M10 for Christmas, which sat and gathered dust until I forced myself to attend a physical photography class in March. The physical part was important. I needed a kick up the arse to get up and go somewhere to learn the basics of photography.
The class was nice. A dozen mostly older people learning the basics of the exposure triangle, the history of photography, the basic styles, whilst being forced to awkwardly socialise in the outhouse attic of our teacher’s home.
I didn’t learn much.
In those 8 weeks, I didn’t learn more than I could have in a few YouTube videos. But for me, the action of getting out there – somewhere physical – and having homework assigned to you every week was the kind of gentle momentum building I needed, and I knew that even before I began.
Shortly after the classes finished, I lost it. Some stuff went down at work (I changed company shortly after that) and I didn’t do anything about photography for awhile.
…until I forced myself to buy a Sony a7ii.
Two reasons for this. The first of which is that, well, who doesn’t love full frame? Haha. The second, is that I needed another momentum builder. And what better way to do that than to slap $1800 on the table?
Everyone struggles with momentum. But it’s really about learning the self-awareness to know that you’ve got something that needs pushing and exactly how to push it that’s really important.
Armed with my $1800 camera, I took to the streets of Vivid Sydney. It’s at the end of this yearly light festival that I consider the real beginning of my journey. It’s here that I started to post on Instagram and Facebook, getting past the fear of showing my work to the world, regardless of how terrible it was back then. It’s the start of the real momentum that I consider the beginning of this journey.
And so, I began the game.
The Instagram game
And it really is just that – a game.
I see photography and Instagram as two very different things – and you should too. On one hand, don’t get wrapped up in the numbers. Your photography should belong to you – to your soul – and remain the voice you decide to show the world. It should be a representation of how you see the world, of your style, of your vision. Something that evolves, and something that you work on for the rest of time.
Instagram, on the other hand, is just how you market yourself.
That’s really all it is.
Never take your followers or likes or engagement as a measure of your own self-worth. You are not your engagement number.
Instagram is just a marketing tool. Like Facebook, like any social media platform, like your own website. It’s a curated version of how you decide show people your soul. It’s how you market your soul to the world. In reality, we are all mini-businesses. We’re all vying for each other’s attention.
We’re all attention seekers – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you’re putting your work online – at all, on any platform – you’re an attention seeker. But don’t for a second think that I consider this a negative thing. Yes, there’s a negative connotation with attention seeking, but that’s for society to deal with. I just see it how it is.
And so, in the beginning, no one was paying attention to me.
Back then at the end of Vivid Sydney, I had 100 followers to my name – a collection of high school and work friends, looking at pictures of dogs, motorbike adventures, and games I was really into.
And I began anew.
For anyone starting your own Instagram and photography journey, let me tell you: the path from 100 to 1000 takes the longest. Both in terms of growing your audience, but more importantly, growing your style as a photographer. You’ll make a lot of mistakes – we all still do – you’ll try a lot of things, you’ll hate a lot of your own work, but don’t give up. It’s critical that you struggle through this path and find your voice.
After doing some research and self reflection, I decided that my weakness was technical ability. I’ve been a designer for almost a decade – over a vast array of different design disciplines – so ideas of composition, visual communication and ‘making things pretty’ are paths I’ve already pursued.
So I decided to learn street photography first.
I decided that street photography would give me the foundation to mastering the technical ability I needed in photography. It would teach me how to manipulate the exposure triangle quickly – and boy did I miss a lot of moments – how to make people feel comfortable, how to shoot from the hip, whilst also teaching me important lessons in storytelling.
So although you won’t see a lot of street in my feed now, it’s where I started. It’s my origin and how I began.
From 1000 to 10,000, I worked on other styles. Urban, landscapes, portraits. I found a lot of inspiration in digging through the archives of people’s work I loved, but the style I fell in love with was Architecture and, more recently, Aerials. But it’s only through trying everything that you find the things you really like.
More importantly through this time, though, I made a lot of photography friends. Best friends, close friends, real friends. People I cherish the time I spend with. People I look forward to hanging out with. People I can go on roadtrips and overseas with. People I can have adventures and experiences with.
For me, that’s what it’s all about. Having adventures and experiences with friends – the photography at the end is just the icing on the cake, posting it on Instagram is just eating it too.
It’s what I’m looking forward to the most on this next chapter between 10,000 and to the next 100,000. More friends, more adventures, more experiences. More life changing moments, more eye-opening journeys, more change.
Over this time you’ll see me try a few things. Mostly refining the style I’ve got and learning more about what I like to share – that will never go away. But I think the strategy for this next exponential jump will be different from the 1000 to 10,000 one. It’ll require a little more diversification to achieve the speed that I want – both of photographic style and how I market it – so expect to see me try and fail on new, seemingly random avenues.
Regardless of what I do, though, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being on this journey with me. For following along on what I’m doing. For being there for support. For being a friend. Regardless of how much momentum I have (or don’t have), successes, failures, or ‘busyness’, no act goes unnoticed, and I’m grateful you’re in my life.
Here’s to the next 100,000.