Some of you might remember that I recently took some time off from Instagram. I've written about it both here and on Insta (which might be a post-post-modern oxymoron of some sort, but whatever). It gave me some new insight, and I wanted to write a little bit about it here.
Firstly, I did not delete the app since I do think I need it for work (as of right now). Also, I have like four different accounts of which I only remember the password and email to two, so loging out/deleting the app seemed like too much work if I didn't end up liking my Instagram free life. I chose to start on a Friday, and was excited to realise that by just moving the app from my phone's home screen to a hidden folder waaay in the back, I instantly broke away from the mindless, perpetual scrolling. You know, the kind of scrolling where you suddenly look up from your screen not remembering even picking up your phone.
For most of you, this type of behaviour might not even be a problem, but it was for me. And it became evident when a weekend had passed and I had hardly touched my phone at all. Not even to check PM:s or posts which mentioned me. From that weekend on, I broke the cycle. I've used Instagram since then, of course, because I do enjoy it. Especially I enjoy the contact I have with my followers, friends and colleagues, and I know that I would miss that part of Instagram so much if I got rid of it.
Secondly, I did notice something else too. When I freed my mind completely from the constant, incessant stream of images on Instagram, I regained a sense of creative clarity and control. It became evident when I returned for a short while to Insta, on a really slow day at work. Out of boredom, I scrolled the flow, looking for something. Some entertainment, to be moved, something. I put the phone down after a while and went back to work. Later that day I was planning a photoshoot, and had this marvellous idea for an image. I was excited, and started sketching it out, loving the idea. And then it came to me. I had seen a version of this image before. Hadn't I? The idea certainly wasn't original as such, but I had an inkling that I wasn't being as creative as I thought. I took out my phone, scrolled Instagram for a while - and found the image. Or rather, the idea. The image itself was not at all similar to the one I had created in my head, but the core idea was exactly the same. I realised then and there that Instagram just really fucks with my creativity. I think it might be the almost subliminal way I consume it - I had hardly noticed the image while I scrolled - but the imprint of it on some part of my mind had made me remember it. And tricked me into thinking the idea was my own.
As a result I have cut back even more on Instagram. For a couple of weeks I have been focusing on my own content as well as just seeking out the feeds I want to enjoy. I've avoided the perfected feeds and watched some stories instead. (I've also been thinking about why the stories are taking over Instagram, but that's for another post.)
When I had cut Instagram waaay down, I realised I needed to cut something else off too. Pinterest. The thing is, I work a lot with Pinterest to convey looks, moods and styling to the makeup artists, models and stylists that I work with. It's also pretty common to use Pinterest to sell an editorial piece in advance, by creating a mood board or show similar photos to what you want to do. I love a good mood board, but before Pinterest, we made them by hand. Now, Pinterest has ruined me. I always end up being steered in some way by it, even without knowing it. And so: I've taken a break from Pinterest too. I've gone so far as to start sketching only: writing down light setups and drawing model's makeup. I want to give myself the chance of creative original work from within. I want to break the perpetual scroll, and the ruined creative mind that is a result. I want to break freeee. You get the gist.
So, I know that no image can be unique since it is created within it's contemporary context. An image will always be made in reference to something, or someone. I don't deny that fact, I rather enjoy it. There was a time before photography on the internet when my ideas stemmed from stories, movies, poetry and musical lyrics. From pages I ripped from 90's fashion magazines, from short stories and vinyl records on repeat. I once created an entire gallery show based only on limericks I had written myself. I know that there is creativity inside me, resting on the solid foundation of my personal context. And I am, hopefully, on my way back to finding that. Without Pinterest, or Instagram. - Emily