May 18, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

ENIGMAENIGMALower Antelope Slot Canyon

Page, Arizona
During his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh was an unsuccessful painter. He sold very little of his work; his style was considered by many to be too avant-garde. Georges-Pierre Seurat was shunned by the establishment art world in Paris. Edouard Manet struggled to have his work exhibited; when it was shown, the criticism was harsh. Claude Monet's early impressionistic pieces were not received well by either the public or art critics.

Why, then, did Monet - or van Gogh, or Seurat, or Manet - continue to paint?

Clearly, each was motivated by something other than the consensus opinion du jour. Thankfully. 

Given how their work was received when they were creating it, it's safe to assume none of those artists would have been successful on social media had such a thing existed in their day. At best there would have been a lukewarm reception. Their pieces would most assuredly not have been showered with affirmation. 

Then as now, artists cannot please everyone. Sometimes it's difficult to please anyone at all.

This is the nature of the beast.

While few are in the same league as someone of Monet's caliber, it's worth thinking about motivation. In that, all artists have something in common. Each of us creates for a reason.

Why do you shoot? 

Why do you shoot what you shoot?

If you share your work on various social media platforms, does it influence your photography in any way?

If something you've posted fails to generate the desired response, does it change your perception of the image? 

Has the way people have reacted to your work online ever caused you to rethink the subject matter you choose or the kinds of compositions you're making?

Social media can be a useful vehicle for marketing and promotion, but it can also be a bit of a trap. Avoid becoming overly invested in it. It shouldn't drive your artistic motivation. Your talent as a photographer is not measured by accrued numbers of likes or hearts or whatever the rating mechanism might be. 

Of course we hope people appreciate our work.

That said, art is subjective. Every image won't resonate with every viewer. Some images won't be understood. When it comes to subject matter there's no such thing as universal appeal. Everyone has their own preference.

How images are shown can greatly impact how they're received, too. For example, perhaps a photograph is better displayed as part of a thematic collection. Together, the collection forms a coherent thought. Standing alone, there is a lack of context. 

It's easy to predict the types of images that will generate enthusiastic responses on social media. Big landscapes generally do better than more intimate scenes. Abstracts tend not to be popular. Recognizable scenes generate more enthusiastic affirmation. Color will win more approval than black and white. 

Does that mean we should edit our locations and compositions accordingly? Make different decisions when processing?

You already know the answer.

Of course not.

About the Photograph


I made this image in a slot canyon near Page, Arizona. I found the shapes created by the repeating lines as well as the texture in the rock interesting, and wanted a composition that transcended the literal. The square crop and black and white processing were purposeful. So is the title.

The photograph wasn't created to generate likes. There is no color. It's an abstract. The subject matter isn't easily recognizable. My intention was to trigger the imagination.

In Local News

399, the undisputed queen of local wildlife, has emerged from her den in Grand Teton National Park! She was seen Tuesday evening with one cub in tow. Both appear to be healthy. Without a doubt, it was a red letter day. There have been a lot of people on pins and needles worried about her. 

The great lady made history (again) with this cub: at age 27, 399 is the oldest known grizzly in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to bear offspring. She broke her own record.

If you're keeping track, this is 399's 18th cub - and she is a very good mama when it comes to raising her young. Here's hoping both she and her little one remain safe throughout the season.  

Long Live the Queen!


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