On stillness

I often question whether what I do is ‘worthwhile’. It can lead to dark places if you let it. Sometimes we can get hung up about our photography, wondering whether it’s ‘good enough’, whether it will be liked, whether it does justice to our intentions and so on.

I then have to remind myself why I take pictures. Is it to be famous? That will never happen! Is it to be respected by other photographers that I know? Sometimes. Is it to find another way of looking at something? Often not, as sometimes I take pictures quite innocently.

So, why do I take pictures? And what is success and failure anyway?  In a previous thread I talked about my need to escape from schedules, projects and objectives. Can we truly be purpose-less? I think not, but  trying to be so is to misconceive the nature of the problem I’m trying to pose. It’s not a question of having no purpose, but rather having a purpose that is sympathetic to the flow around me, one that is congruent to how I feel about things. 

My photographic practise need not look like anything. It need not be like someone else’s; it need not have a defined shape or goal. It need not be subject to success/failure criteria. My photography is just the practise of paying attention, part of the business of living and learning to be more sensitive. The photograph is just the icing on the cake. Whether for good or bad; it doesn’t matter.

Llynnau Mymbyr, North Wales – Ilford HP5 in BTTB; Hasselblad 503/80mm Planar

It can be tough trying to live outside of schedules, projects and objectives. It seems that we need them, as if we are programmed to program. But sometimes marvellous things can happen if we are just still and open to the flow. We just have to guard against striving for this to happen!


  1. Reply
    Steve Starr Mar 19, 2024

    Some interesting thoughts Tony, lovely photos too. I find myself driven to ‘do something’ with my photography, as you said not to be famous or anything like that, it’s strictly personal, predominantly it’s about telling stories of one sort or another for me, but then if you are telling a story, what’s the point if nobody else hears your story, so I do have the need to put my work out there even if only one or two people ever see it. I kind of have a hankering to be more relaxed about how I work, but I do find it difficult, I wonder if the lifetime of working and studying is too ingrained to drop that way of life now I’m retired.

    • Reply
      tonycearnsphotography Mar 19, 2024

      Hi Steve, thanks for stopping by.
      Yes, I agree with you. In the end photography is a form of communication – it needs someone-else at the other end. I too have had a life full of objectives, deadlines and study. Still do to some extent. But I try to make my photography a stress-free zone …. Doesn’t always work though. I mustn’t stress about being stress-free!!

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