A Voice in the Wilderness

All around us, from our screens to print magazines to giant billboards, there’s a constant stream of images. It’s easy to feel a little lost in terms of our own contribution. Do you ever post a favourite shot to facebook, Flickr or your website, and wonder why you’re bothering? Will anyone even see it? Will they like it?

Sentinal - ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Sentinel – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

I know at times I feel like my work is just a drop in the ocean, a tiny sound in an endless void. A voice in the wilderness. So why do we do it? Why do we doggedly share, show and reveal our images in a world already bursting with incredible visual imagery?

Pressed Panorama - ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Pressed Panorama – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Not only is there a surplus of photographs but, if you think about it, we must be CRAZY to open ourselves up in this way! When we post and pin our images, we’re revealing some pretty personal information about ourselves: we’re shouting out what we like, what moves us, what we feel is special, what we think is important. We’re showing our unique artistic impulses and demonstrating our level of technical skill (or our embarrassing lack thereof in both categories). We open ourselves up to the risk of ridicule from complete strangers! Remember that dream everyone has, where you show up at school completely naked!?! On one level, throwing your work out there into a cold, uncaring world can make you feel the same shivery level of exposure.

Dry Riverbed - ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Dry Riverbed – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

So when we share our images, we’re either crazy or really brave — or both. I think we continue to post our images, despite the risks, because it’s the human condition to seek connection with others. We were motivated to make something — an image — and we want to share what touched us in hopes it might reach someone else’s heart. And here’s the good news. We have to keep up this crazy, brave, foolish pursuit of connection. Because images can effect change. Because images do have an impact. Because images do connect.

Last Light - ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Last Light – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Darwin and I have always taught photography with a firm emphasis on creativity and the uniqueness of vision of every one of our students, regardless of their so-called ‘level’ or ‘professional’ ability. Guy Clark has an amazing song about trusting your cape… sometimes, you just have to make a leap and hope that your belief in yourself will see you through. I firmly believe that everyone’s artistic voice is needed in this world. It’s only through sharing and connection, communication and discussion, that we may be able to fumble our way toward some solutions to the problems of this day-and-age. No lone voice in the wilderness will amount to much of a song, but a beautiful chorus of heart-felt, artistic expression…now that just might change the world.

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!

23 Comments

  1. Millie Jonsson
    February 27, 2014

    That was truly lovely and well expressed..thank you so much. The timing was perfect!

    Reply
  2. jmeyersforeman
    February 27, 2014

    thanks Samantha for a wonderful blog post, your photography is always inspiring, and your blog post is timely. Sharing and displaying our art can be intimidating, but it is even more crazy not sharing, it would be like being able to talk and never speaking…..
    I hope you keep sharing.

    Reply
  3. Lawrence
    February 28, 2014

    Beautifully written Samantha. I fully agree, it often does feel like “why? why bother?” but I think yes, it is our need to connect…to feel a part of something, just somedays, we may wonder what that is….

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      February 28, 2014

      I agree…it’s to be a part of something larger than ourselves that drives us on.

  4. Allison
    February 28, 2014

    Great artistic expression to post with your last shot

    Reply
  5. Doug Keech
    February 28, 2014

    So true…why do we do this? Why do we open ourselves up? Our lives are but a speck in time. However our images live on. And perhaps someday, one of them or maybe even a few, just may strike a chord with someone and be more meaningful than we ever could have imagined.

    Reply
  6. Wayne Nelson
    February 28, 2014

    Wonderfully written and illustrated. I am 62 and have been sharing images first in publications and then also on the internet since 1971. There is always that moment when you wonder if your picture will be accepted. I think that is the human condition.

    Reply
  7. Julie
    February 28, 2014

    Very nicely put Samantha. I could not agree more. Thank you so much for your very generous contributions. We all appreciate what you both do in this huge world of photography.

    Reply
  8. Stu Dale
    February 28, 2014

    I agree that artists opens themselves up to scrutiny when they share their work publicly. I have the same feelings as others who have commented, “Why bother?” But I think it is the discussion that is important. I know when I share my work I’m sharing work that I like, that I’m proud to share. Comments from others for me are very useful in furthering my learning process. Even at 69 that is still very important to me.

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      February 28, 2014

      We’re never too old to learn! I hope as I mature as an artist that I am as open to sharing and persistent as you, Stu, and Wayne in this comment thread.

  9. Scott Dimond
    February 28, 2014

    Hi Sam, Great post. You really have provided food for thought on this crazy cycle of exploring, capturing, processing and then posting, seemingly all for a few measly likes. Many times I have asked myself why I do it. The creation of an image that I like gives me personal satisfaction. But then it seems that it is not enough. I feel I must throw the image out there and see what the world thinks of it. And if no one notices it, I start to second guess myself and start thinking maybe something is wrong with it or wrong with me for liking it. Someday, I think keeping my favourite images to myself would be better. But I think your post has provided another perspective on this. Thanks for that. Scott

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      March 3, 2014

      Hey Scott, glad the post struck a chord, and glad you keep sharing and trying things out. You are a very diverse shooter, not a one-trick pony.

  10. John Fujimagari
    February 28, 2014

    I dislike feeling like I have to scream to be heard above the noise, and prefer to just do my own thing, for me. But I think you hit the nail on the head where you talk about connecting in a meaningful way, not Facebook friends or Twitter followers. When I post an image or write a blog post that evokes a visceral reaction, I’ve done my job. All too often, when someone does that for me, I ended up clicking +1 or Like instead of making a heartfelt comment.
    So, that being said, Sam, your work nearly always has a gut reaction that is deeper than just pretty pictures.

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks, John! You have the right approach to follow your vision and post what is interesting to you and on your terms.

  11. Karrie Daly
    February 28, 2014

    Needed to hear and read this today… photography is a crazy but amazing world indeed with such a varying level of appreciation and expectation. But you touched on what is the beauty of it to me personally… there is not only one set way to shoot 10 people can shoot the exact same thing and each create a different image. It’s personal which is why there is such vulnerability sharing our work, but also great reward in opening that window to our soul so to speak for people to look in.

    Reply
  12. Exploring New Talents | Wayne Nelson's Earth Image's Blog
    March 1, 2014

    […] recently read a blog post by Samantha Chrysanthou entitled A Voice in The Wilderness.  For anybody, be you famous or unknown, who shares their […]

    Reply
  13. Enivea
    March 2, 2014

    Yes Samantha, there is that risk, that being vulnerable, and all the why’s that go with it. Yet despite myself, I cannot help but share my images, and sometimes they do connect with people, and THAT is reason enough to continue. 🙂
    Your images DO connect with me, especially yours that take a look at the smaller elements in a scene, not just the larger landscape.

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      March 3, 2014

      I’m very glad! It’s good to hear that your work connects 🙂

  14. Dave Millier
    March 3, 2014

    Well said!.

    It’s also nice to see some quality landscape photography that isn’t shot with the ubiquitous ultra wide lens. Telephotos are great for landscape, too.

    I particularly like the line of trees shot.

    Cheers

    Dave

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks, Dave. Yup, teles work well with landscape shots, don’t they!

  15. Royce Howland
    March 7, 2014

    Good thoughts, Sam. Yes, I’ve often wondered this. I don’t necessarily have answers for anyone else, and not even all of the ones for myself. 🙂 But I keep on making photographs and putting them out there because for me it’s better than the alternative — not doing it. I think all true artists are driven to create. Most are also driven to share their creations, though that’s not true for all artists. And even if they do share, it’s not a given that the connection will happen, let alone that any traditional form of “success” will happen. It’s still something artists feel compelled to do.

    For me it’s becoming increasingly about storytelling, across a broad range of what might be meant by “story”. It could be a good story or a bad one, a hopeful one or more despairing. It could be a really simple story or one that I think has a lot of meaning; very representative & straight forward, or very subjective. It could be a story that resonates, or one where nobody gets the point I’m trying to send. 🙂 It could be more about me, about my subject, or perhaps about what the audience actually brings to the exchange.

    If I don’t put it out there, then it’s a secret, not a story. I’m not really that into photographing secrets. 🙂 For me the whole point of story — any kind of story — is that it must be told to somebody. It’s a form of reaching out with whatever I have to offer. Maybe it will flop or be written off as boring, trivial or whatever; I try not to worry about that, except as an internal motivation to get better at sharing the story I meant to share. If a connection happens, great! If it’s a connection that’s more interesting than what I actually expected, so much the better. Like one person said above, those periodic connections help keep us going…

    Reply
  16. CW
    March 12, 2014

    Thanks for the pep talk. I’ve felt that “why bother” feeling too many times. But it goes away. Sometimes slower than I wish. But then I realize I create mainly for me. I enjoy it. It keeps me sane…

    I enjoy the challenges. Not just taking a decent image but the whole process. I really enjoy printing. Anyway, thanks again.

    CW

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Top