So the photography AND the videography worlds were wrought with drama last week (SHOCKER!) If you giggled at my “shocker” exclamation it’s probably because you know that there is almost always some kind drama going on in the visual arts industry. It usually starts when some photographer or filmmaker somewhere does or says something provocative that ruffles the feathers of someone else. What follows is a deluge of social media mayhem from Twitter to Tumblr, from Facebook to WordPress. Posts get written. People reply. Comments build up. Hashtags are created. Gauntlets are thrown. Literally millions of dollars in loss productivity occurs. Cats and dogs start living together. MASS HYSTERIA! (Where is Señior Love Daddy when we need him?)
To be fair, most people who lash out do it because they are passionate about this industry and sincerely care about its progress. When you see something that you feel is hurting something you care about, you want to take a stance and expose what you sincerely feel is bad. Trust me. I totally empathize. Just last week I did the same thing on my personal blog when I came across something that deeply disturbed me. But literally within minutes I took down my post because it was made clear to me that what I was doing was adding fuel to a fire. It wouldn’t matter how “fair and balanced” I might think my post was, all I would do is make matters worse. I’d also be going against my own beliefs about not handling sensitive issues in public venues. I prefer approaching an individual in private if it’s that important.
So I made a resolve: instead of writing a negative post about what I don’t like, I’d write a positive post about what I DO like. I’ll shine light on those who I feel are doing things in a positive way.
Then I thought: what if I could get others to do the same? What if we could start a movement where photographers and filmmakers spent half of a morning writing about 1-3 colleagues in their industry who they feel are making it better; then also share why. Instead of thousands of posts, replies and tweets sharing negativity, let’s do the opposite and generate the same number (or more) shining light.
So here’s my challenge to you.
- Pick 1-3 colleagues you admire and write a short blog post or Facebook post about who they are and why you think they raise the bar in the industry. If you’re really bold, make a video.
- Then share your post (or video) on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Use the hashtag #ShineLight to make it easy for others to find positive articles, discover new artists, and be inspired. (For the record, this is NOT some subversive attempt just to spread my own links. Yes, when you first click the hashtag, all the links you see will be to this or my personal blog. But that’s not the intention. My hope is that the hashtag will eventually be flooded with links to YOUR blogs, etc.)
- As you read other people’s posts, comment and affirm both the writer and the people they’re praising.
- If you don’t have a blog or the time to write a longer post, just use Twitter as your positivity platform, e.g. “I want to #ShineLight on @skipcohen for being a curator & connector of photographic excellence.” or “I want to #ShineLight on @eliotrausch for his moving documentary shorts that inspire me as a filmmaker.” or “I want to #ShineLight on @shawnreeder because his whole being exudes love.”
- Then repeat as often as you see fit.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but if by some chance somebody praises one of the people you dislike, play nice. Just let it go and ignore their post. Okay?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there isn’t a time when it’s necessary to publicly address an issue in the industry. Nor am I saying that if you do that you’re a bad person (as I mentioned above, I’m equally guilty). But I do think those posts are more productive when they address a concept or an intangible vs. attacking a specific person or company (e.g. my personal soap box against the over-use of hyper shallow depth of field in DSLR filmmaking. But don’t get me started).
In truth, there are times when attacking a specific company is necessary too (although, IMHO, it’s when you’re dealing with socio or economic issues that are much bigger than many of the petty squirmishes I see in the filmmaking and photography worlds.)
So who’s with me? Maybe I’m being naive. But a fella can dream can’t he?
I’ll start us off. Here’s a post on my personal blog related to Christian photographers starting positive movements that I, as a Christian in the industry, admire and think positively exemplify the faith.