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My Analogue Life: Managing Media Overload

A funny thing happened a few years ago when I left my 15-year career as a journalist to write books and take pictures: I could think again. And I owe it all — or a whole lot of it anyway — to my lack of media exposure.

Like a lot of people, I spent much of my life online, and when I wasn’t digging up or researching stories about popular culture trends, I was reading magazines, sometimes 50 to 75 per month and reading at least three books per week. It wasn’t until I stopped completely that I was able to truly develop my photographic style and gain confidence in my work.

It may sound counter-intuitive, I mean, how are we supposed to measure our work unless we know what else is out there? In art school, students study history and influential practitioners and when those students make the leap to professionals, it’s almost expected that they keep up with the latest-and-greatest in their field. But can so much media exposure inhibit the creative process rather than encourage it?

For a year-and-a-half I shunned all magazines and newspapers, most books as well, and spent very little time online, only checking my email and perhaps uploading some photos. It was only then that my imagination (the way I had imagined it was long ago, a least) rebounded and flourished. My brain was clear of clutter and I found myself finally being able to create the images I saw in my head without second-guessing myself or wondering if anyone would like them, or who I might be compared to, or what anyone would think at all.

You don’t have to work in media to be overwhelmed by it and not even know it and I think at times this information overload can cripple our confidence and make us doubt our vision.

I do read the occasional magazine these days and spend more time online, but I’m acutely aware of the media’s affect on my work. And aside from leafing through my collection of vintage periodicals and the work I find here on Lomography and on Flickr, I don’t pay much mind to what’s happening in the photography world at large. Sometimes, it’s just better not to know.

How much are your images influenced by the media around you? Share your thoughts and images with me!

Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.

written by pamelaklaffke

5 comments

  1. emilios

    emilios

    Great article and I agree, up to a point though. News and media do affect you and to a certain extend affect someone's mood and consequently his/her creativity. However the key point, I think, is to which degree you will allow your self to be affected with what is going on around you. And I think people in general should not allow themselves, and more importantly, their being dictated (maybe its a strong word) with what they see on tv or newspaper. But, unfortunately, today's society, and especially the younger generation, are sucked in without even noticing it. From personal experience of daily interaction with all sorts of people, I came to the conclusion that as a human race we become dumber and dumber.

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  2. lomoteddy

    lomoteddy

    i really love that photo, that feeling when your young and you idolize something. I think media exposure has a strong affect on art. its undeniable, but its affect can be profound, like wharhol's. I like work that is honest, tells a story, and comes from a deep obsession and need to express it self, even at the expense of whatever it is around them. Luckily photography helps people see with a keener eye, and allows a person the opportunity to see through some of the worst and most annoying media messages.
    Music is the same way. For me, i think the more you learn about a craft, whether it is photography or music, you have a greater responsibility to keep a more open mind. Its too easy to learn about Diane Arbus and judge everyone elses work as "not even close". Its better to find something cool in as many things as possible, whether it is media or anything else in the world we all live in. Sometimes we need a break, but life is too short not to see something beautiful in as many things as we can.

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  3. littlegreensquirrel

    littlegreensquirrel

    I completely agree that media can be very distracting, especially to visual people. We are, by nature, drawn to images and, with the quantity of them available on the internet, a person could spend all their time looking and never creating!

    However, specific to the pictures I've seen on this site anyway, on-line media provides such an amazing opportunity to see the world through other people's lenses. Individuals become part of an image collective that I personally find very touching, enlightening and inspiring!

    Peace!

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  4. mephisto19

    mephisto19

    i am at an art school and i often hear "this reminds me of..." or "have a look at the work of...."or "when you are doing that you are in the tradition of..." at the meetings where people present their work
    for me i try to create MY work (and is is influenced by what i see and read, but that is a source of inspiration for me, reading, finding strange words, continue thinking about them,...) and knowing who did something with the same material or technique or being compared is odd. i feel as if i would copy, copy, copy and not try to create something out of my motivation, out of what i saw, read, heard, feel
    it is good to talk about my artworks, it is good to see how people react and it is so interesting to see the difference between my online presentation here and the class meetings. i want that feedback

    but what i realized for me is that if i watch tv very often or am online too long my inspiration suffers. what helps me is classical music with its structure to get my head free, to sort all my thoughts. and writing, writing ideas down to get them out of my head to have space for something new

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  5. pamelaklaffke

    pamelaklaffke

    emilios: i'm not sure if we're becoming dumber or if it's more a re-definition of what is "smart," especially in this era where making a sex tape is a considered a business move and a ticket to "success." i often wonder how much lower things in media can sink and don't think they can — but they always do.
    lomoteddy: i'm glad you like the photo! i agree that we should keep our minds open and try to see things new ways the more experienced and educated in a skill we become. i just find the balance between keeping an open mind and having a cluttered one the biggest challenge!
    littlegreensquirrel: i agree that looking at images here on the lomo site or sometimes on flickr (though it's gotten so big and unwieldy that i don't spend much time browsing anymore) can be very inspiring, but i also have to be in the right mood and not necessarily in the middle of shooting a series, as i find isolation the best for me for that particular process.
    mephisto19: i write every idea down, too — i have notebooks full of things that wouldn't likely make any sense to anyone but me. i think that feedback is great, but it is weird when people compare your work to others. i often get people saying my stuff reminds them of the late american photographer, ralph eugene meatyard, whose work i didn't know until i started hearing my work compared to his. so i checked it out and really liked it (i'd love an original print). we both shoot people in masks, which is where the comparison comes from, but i think our styles are so very different. still, it's one time that a comparison has led to me discovering the work of someone new that i've ended up really captivated by.

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Português, Deutsch & Spanish.