Projects, Self-Assignments and Games – The Need to Create

We all get motivation from various places. For some it’s self-generated. (That would be me.) I have an insatiable need to create work, which I’ve written about many times. It makes it easy to be prolific. My way is to create goals–projects, self-assignments, games even. Whatever it takes.

I have been working on the Roy Stryker photo project for five years, having started it in 2017. That’s tenacity. How is it possible, how do I do it? Simple, it’s due. So, I make sure there is new work being added three times a week. It’s what I want to do. I choose to keep it going.

Same with The Wise Photo Project. And the twice-a-week YouTube videos. And the twice-a-week photography podcast. And the few-times-a-week 6×6 Portraits photo blog (this here). I don’t make a living doing it, that I do with my commercial and editorial freelance work.

Here are the real totals: I make exactly zero dollars for my photo projects, this blog and the podcast. I make about $50/month from YouTube because they include ads, and that’s after 10 years of making work and reaching over 5700 subscribers. And another $40/month in Patreon patron support.

Which I’m thankful for, but it’s obvious I’m not doing it for the money. I’m all about the work.

Now, you have to decide would you do it, this type of work, if you weren’t getting a decent monetary return from it. For me, I do it because I create connections. I appreciate my viewers and my readers. They often tell me how important or meaningful my work is, how it inspires them, and that’s worth quite a bit to me. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, I have that insatiable need to create.

Would I turn down more money for my work? No. But that’s not going to be the deciding factor as to whether I make the work. I won’t let the market dictate what I create.

I create for me. Because it’s about the work. My truth. What I want to make. For me.

Some photos are for fun. Like this one was for The Photo Game, made for the prompt: ‘Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign’. Would it have been made except for it was due? Doubtful.

People often say, “Wow, you’ve made so much. You have so many photographs and films and projects.” And I say, “You have as much time as me. You can do what I do. Anyone can.” I am not a TV watcher. I like a good movie on occasion. But I prefer to be on this side of the camera or the writing, instead of watching someone else’s work. That way I will have work to share with them.

I’ve often thought of television as a window to watching other people do things–play sports, compete on game shows, reality shows (which I’ve shot videos for and they’re anything but real)–and I don’t want to watch them, I want to do things. And I certainly don’t watch the TV news. Ever since they went 24/7, their only goal is to fill the airwaves with things that put people in fear to keep them watching. It’s not serving the public, it’s selling them, their eyeballs, and cashing in with advertisers.

Guess they are in it for the money.

If I were in it for the cash, I’d be making posts about gear and new camera reviews, and “Did you hear about the new Leica M11?” And I would be hashtagging Leica–#leicam11 #leicam #leica–like there was no tomorrow. I wouldn’t last a week, I’d be so bored.

I prefer to write about photography. Make shows about what inspires me, and maybe it will inspire you and others.

At the end of the day, trying to chase the cash, making work that we don’t care about, that’s not sustainable. That lasts a very short while when we get bored and quit. Make the work that matters to you. That’s the only work that you can ever get others interested in you with. That might “go”, though that’s totally out of our control. All we can do is make the work.

The work we believe in. And then make some more. Then see where it takes us.

Our truth. The work that shows who we really are. The only work that matters.

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