Ever since the birth of social media, I've had the growing feeling that passion for the creative process has taken a back seat, with pressure to produce and consume "content" now being the predominant driver. The urge to make a name for ourselves on Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok etc has overtaken the simple joy of creating art because it's our passion. The monetization of videos on the internet, branded posts, the rapid growth of NFTs (don't even get me started) has spawned a new drive to create consistent works only to be shared on the internet, almost extinguishing the fire that fuels our creativity in the first place. (It's worth noting that this level of cynicism is only felt as I've been one of those people for many years.)
Despite being an avid user of social media over the years, and still to this day primarily being a digital photographer, the growing trend of posting incessantly to gain metrics on the internet has developed a need to slow down my consumption of art and maintain my love of analog mediums. Almost as a means of creative self care. Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on a photo book by talented San Francisco-based photographer, Yameen (known by the moniker @filmhowyalike on Instagram). The work itself named "Kuya" (translated in Tagalog meaning "brother" used to address an older male as a term of respect), was compiled and curated as a tribute to family in Manila whom he'd met for the first time. Documented in his debut photobook.
"As my first photo book I chose to go with something very personal and intimate. ~ The Philippines are not what I am known for on Instagram. But perhaps that was part of the point: the unexpected and the uniqueness of it." @filmhowyalike
When turning the pages of this book, I found myself pausing on each image, scanning for every detail the photograph had to offer. The level of appreciation for photography has now been elevated to a new level I hadn't experienced for a long while even when taking my own photographs in recent months. I've owned a number of photobooks before Yameen's Kuya, but they'd been relegated to a shelf as decoration, taking up space and not seeing the light of day since their first purchase. I quickly realized when flicking through this book, that I was consuming art all wrong. Art in any medium is meant to be consumed in a format tangible to the one viewing it, or at least this is how it should be in my opinion.
In his book, Yameen brought to life scenes from a culture some of us may not otherwise be lucky enough to experience. Documenting his sights and experiences in a series of colour photos while also allowing us to join as another passenger on his trip to the Philippines. I've sifted through this book several times since receiving it as I realize through each page that viewing photography in print slows my consumption for a media I love, while also giving my tired scrolling thumb a rest in the process.
So why print your own work? There's a number of reasons why I think it's important to print your work, whether it's in large print or creating a series in a photobook or zine. It inspires discipline, slows your workflow down to appreciate the process, pushes you out of your comfort zone. But most importantly it allows you to create a physical product that you can share with a community, taking their consumption of art offline. Inspiration comes in many forms, but for me it's removing myself from social media and experiencing work created by others.
In the past few weeks I've began compiling my own work with the goal of creating a photobook. As well as printing my own photography in large print for the first time. And you should too.