The next time you are frustrated, having a bad day or negativity is simply surrounding you, break the cycle and turn everything around with your photography. It always amazes me how incredibly powerful photography is in bringing light into the darkness of life. While most of the things don’t have this almost magical power, your photography has. It’s one of the most positive things you could do, especially in moments when you need it the most.
The Positive Power of Your Photography
Photography in itself is extremely positive. First of all, when you take a photo you are always creating something new. They say that creating is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. It simply feels great to be productive with 100% creative freedom. That already lifts your spirits.
Photography is deeply rooted in your love for life. No matter how bad your moment is, once you decide to take photos, you are walking towards the light again. Literally, photography light and inner self light. You are looking for something beautiful that captures your eye, heart and soul. You are connecting with your inner self and that is something truly beautiful.
In order to use the full power of photographic positivity, your attitude in general has to shift towards positive vibes, too. Negativity takes opportunities away, positivity creates them. The same goes for photo opportunities. The more you think positive and love life, the more beautiful moments you will discover.
The Japanese Concept of Wabi-Sabi
Have you ever heard of the Japanese idea of Wabi-Sabi? It’s about embracing something that is flawed, broken or imperfect. Although we always strive for perfection, this philosophy revolves around celebrating imperfection. I just love that idea! The Japanese for instance apply this philosophy to broken jars and vases. In the pottery art “Kintsugi” you take the broken pieces and mend them back together with golden lacquer instead of invisible glue. The cracks are highlighted instead of hidden, because turning something broken into something new by embracing its history is truly beautiful. If we were to apply “Kintsugi” to ourselves, those “cracks” you acquire in the path of life become part of your soul, embraced by your heart and expressed thru your eyes in your photography choices.
Let me explain real quick why a bad situation despite its “negativity” contains one of the most important ingredients for great photos. As far as I see it, “creative gold” in photography is the synergy between your eye, heart and soul. Your eye is your unique way of seeing life around you. It’s about what catches your attention and how you compose photos. Your heart is the passion and desire you have that makes you go out and take photos and also the emotions you pour into them. Your soul is your personality, your history and future. It’s about everything that turns you into you. During bad times, your heart is usually filled with lots of emotions. Although these may hurt in a way, they also contain so much powerful creative energy if you are willing to pour them into your photos. You can use them as fuel to create something so distinctively you that it will always remind you of the strength and positivity you can have when things don’t go your way.
But how do you fill your broken moments in life with “photography gold”? Let’s just assume something bad happened, you’ve taken the time to process what happened and now you are willing to turn it around. Generally, the most exciting way is to “develop the negatives”. You fully embrace the “negative” moment and create photos that relate to it. That way you can fully tap into the emotions and energies that it creates. To the contrary, you can also decide to simply create a photo that doesn’t relate to the moment in order to lift your spirits.
In order to show you how you could use this philosophy for your photos, let me give you a number of examples of how I used the power of positivity.
I will never forget how I was so upset about missing my last tram that night but I thought to myself: At least use this 30-minute walk to take some photos you would’ve never taken otherwise. The minute I crossed the street behind the tram, I discovered this beautiful moment in the corner of my eye and hit the shutter as fast as I could. It was definitely worth the long way home!
After my brand new $1600 L-lens fell to the ground, I couldn’t focus anymore. Everything was blurry. Although it was a huge shock at first, I fell in love with this broken, blurry look and decided to create a whole set with a broken lens about broken characters.
I clearly remember after setting up my TV that night, I realized I was still missing one more cable. I had to go all the way back to the city center during this ice cold, snowy night. I’m sure you can imagine how happy I was about that. When I left the mall it started snowing so much that my jacket turned from blue to white within minutes. Although I was incredibly cold, I just wanted to capture the beauty of this biting cold snow storm that annoyed me so much. After 40 minutes of waiting I finally captured what I had in mind and turned this hell of a snow storm into an eternal memory.
I had a layover in Philadelphia on my flight to Miami. Due to heavy rain I had to wait 13 hours in the airport after a 9-hour flight from Amsterdam. I was incredibly tired, exhausted and frustrated beyond limits, but I swore to myself that I would create something beautiful in this whole mess. With my last energies I captured this abstract moment through the wet, foggy windows of the airport.
I was visiting my parents in the tiny northern German village where I was born and raised. I was so frustrated that I “couldn’t” take any street photos there so I set myself the challenge to do exactly that. I went out that night for hours looking for people in the snow storm, when suddenly I found a couple walking around in this deserted place I couldn’t believe my frozen eyes and hit the shutter!
Due to very unfortunate circumstances I became severely depressed and wrestled with death in 2014 for almost half a year. I became so weak that I would almost drown next to a glass of water. Although I didn’t really have the energy to take photos, I collected my last strength to capture what it feels like to suffer from depression. That’s how this photo was “developed from the negatives”.
Develop Your Negatives
Whether we want it or not, from time to time we have to face “bad” situations in life. You may not even be responsible for what happened, but fortunately you always have the power to choose your response to it. That’s something that no one can ever take away from you. You can always “develop from the negatives” and create something beautiful in any situation, as long as your heart is filled with positivity.
While some people may always look on the dark side of life, as a photographer you are fundamentally different. You love life so much that you walk around for hours only to find the light that turns a moment into a golden moment. Thanks to your passion in photography and your outlook on life, you already carry the bright side in you. That is something you should be truly grateful for and cherish as much as you can.
So whenever the darkness surrounds you, grab your camera and do what you love the most:
Look for the best light within and around you… and amazing things will happen!
About the author: Marius Vieth is a 21-time award-winning German fine art photographer focused on street photography currently based in Amsterdam. He’s also the publisher of his own premium print fine art magazine. You can join him on his creative journey around the world on his website, YouTube Channel, Facebook, Flickr, 500px, Google Plus and Twitter. This article was also published here.