For anyone that knows me, they'll know that I’m not the biggest fan of social media. I try to limit the time I spend on it as much as possible. As a self-employed photographer it’s difficult not to be on social media in some form though. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great tool for creatives to be able to get work out there and seen and connect with people that they might not have been able to before. The problem is that I also see the flaws and the negative effects it has on some people if you aren’t careful.
It’s 2019 and mental illness, depression, stress and anxiety are all on the increase. There’s been a whole heap of studies done that have linked high levels of social media use with these higher levels of depression, stress and anxiety. High levels of social media use? That’s most people these days isn’t it? I read recently that a ‘normal’ person will spend, on average, at least 2 hours a day on social media! That seems high to me but then again I’m not ‘normal’ and I know that some people spend even longer on it all. So have we got a problem? Is the way we live our modern lives affecting how we see ourselves and our self-worth and is social media tearing us apart?
Tearing us apart might be a little extreme but I can see how we’ve got here. Everywhere we look on social media we are bombarded by images! Beautiful people on holiday in exotic locations, doing exciting things, having perfect relationships, eating great food, achieving all their goals and all-round living their ‘best lives’! Sound familiar? Well, I’m sat here in a rainy UK town writing a blog post about all this! Not quite as exotic is it? I think that’s part of the problem! That comparison culture!
What we often forget, and I’m equally guilty of it, is that social media is not ‘real’ life. It’s a highlight reel! We all ‘curate’ the content that we put out in the world to portray the best versions of ourselves, our lives or our brands. It’s rare to see someone show their ‘real’ life these days, warts and all, the failures, the internal struggles etc and that’s fine but what it can lead to is an unrealistic comparison between our lives and the lives of others that we see via social media. I know I’m guilty of it too, as a creative. I’m constantly comparing my creative work to the work of others when I’m on social media. Why do they have more followers than me? Why has my image not got as many likes or comments as that persons etc? It’s dangerous! We turn these ‘likes’ and 'comments’ etc into a form of social currency that can then be used as a scale to validate our self-worth (very Black Mirror)! When we don’t have as many ‘followers’ as someone else, we don’t get the same number of ‘likes’ or someone says something negative we attribute that to our value as a photographer, creative or on some extreme levels as a human being. So no wonder it’s affecting people and their mental health! I understand it and I still do it! Maybe I’m just being dramatic as an over sensitive creative but I’m sure we can all relate on some level to this?
Once again I’ve rambled on but something to think about next time you log on to one of the many social media platforms maybe! With all this having been said, I should probably say something about the images from this project entitled ‘Tearing us apart’.
TEARING US APART
This is a new version of an old project. I had played around with ripping up images in some previous projects years ago. This time I teamed up with, incredible model and human being, Lily Gilbert. Lily has a huge following on Instagram, 219k to be more specific, so this project idea resonated with her as she has been on the receiving end of negative comments and all sorts of unwanted online abuse. Lily is awesome and I’m so grateful she was kind enough to get involved.
We wanted to create a set of images that represented some of the ideas and topics that I’ve already spoken about above. We ended up only using one image of Lily from this, very simple, shoot to form the project. In the shot, Lily is naked, exposed, and on show with nothing to hide behind. Lily’s expression in the image also sat with what we were trying to say perfectly! Forlorn I think would be the word to describe this look? From there I printed out 3 copies of the image to be ripped. One to be ripped by me. One to be ripped by Lily and a final one to be ripped by an ‘independent’ in this case, a friend of mine. The images were then rescanned to create the final shots and gif with each ripped version being slightly different.
I won’t go into any more detail about the shots, or why 3 different people ripped the image or even why we ripped the image at all (I think that is pretty obvious one though right?), I think I’ve rambled on enough! Anyway, it’s up to the viewer to form their own interpretations of the project.
I have included a little bit of the technical info below but as I say it was a very simple shoot. Thanks again for taking the time to check out the blog and get in touch if there are any topics that you would like me to discuss in a future blog.
Until next week!
Camera: Canon 5D MK IV
Software: Capture One Pro
Lighting: 1 x Elinchrom Ranger RX S Heads + Modifiers
Model: Lily Gilbert