I’ve taken a big Facebook break as of late. I still post photos but I post and then get out. This may be “selfish” of me, but since Social Media is pretty focused on self interest, I’ve made my peace with it. There are lots of reasons why, but one main reason is I feel like no matter what choice I make with my art, someone has got a post telling me why that is the wrong choice. Whether it be sharing intimate photos of your family or choosing not to, choosing to submit to a show that you have to pay for, but with no cash prize or not submitting, focusing on a single niche in your work or not focusing…whatever the choice, be it big or small, someone has something to say about it. I read comments on posts chastising a type of behavior or justifying another and there are always comments that read ,”I’m guilty of this…I know I should do better,” because whenever someone puts out a strong opinion about something, there are people who are going to feel ashamed and that, ladies and gentlemen, is rarely a feeling that we need to feel. I do think that there are things that need to change in this world, in this industry, etc…of course there are…but when everyday you read about something new you should be doing, or something you have been doing that someone says is wrong, it’s easy to lose track of what’s at the heart of this whole process…creating.
This last month when I put the finishing touches on Volume V of “The Long Way Home” I had tears in my eyes. Reading the words of so many artists, seeing their souls in their images and being able to bring it all together one cohesive place, adding my few words with it, was the most creatively satisfying thing I have ever done. It had nothing to do with “being published” or “publishing”. Instead, it had everything to do with creating for the sake of creating and making something beautiful to share with others and touch their hearts. That’s why I create. I create for myself and I create to continue the conversation, to make this world feel a little less lonely and to remind us that we are all in this together. Having that reminder, as I spent countless hours pouring through the sacred art of those in the magazine, brought light to my soul and reignited my purpose.
There are lots of things we should all be doing differently and there are many ways we could all be more successful in the traditional sense, but I want to encourage us all to never let those motives overpower our burning desire to create for creation’s sake. Don’t worry what people think you should do if you see an opportunity where you want to share your art, but others may disapprove. Just share your art! It’s your damn art and if the main reason we all became artists was to be stifled and put in a box of “shoulds”, I’m pretty sure we missed the point. So, share your art if you want to. Create how you want to. Be a part of whatever makes your soul sing and your art shine. Put your art over shoulds and doubts. Sometimes it will be the wrong choice, but I guarantee that those wrong times will be overwhelmingly outnumbered by the times when your soul and your art were right. After you look to yourself for guidance, let’s put this same message out there, shall we? Let’s nurture each artist’s individual path without fully guiding, let’s let one person’s goals be different from our own, but able to coexist. Let’s create that feeling of community in our interactions that is created naturally in the intermingling of our art, but often falls flat in the world of Facebook. Let us always remember how personal and precious creativity and art are and always remember our driving reasons for why we create. It will be different for all of us, but whatever it is, never lose sight of it and never do anything but nurture that reason in yourself and in those around you.
Amanda Voelker is a fine art and lifestyle photographer. With her children and light as her inspiration, Amanda finds beauty in the everyday. She strives to capture the subtleties of human emotion and connection in a beautiful way that showcases both the moment and a piece of her self. Amanda is also the Co Creator and Editor in Chief of “The Long Way Home” Magazine and instructor at "The Bloom Forum"