Ego stands for the latin word “ego” meaning Me or I, and stands for the conscious representation we have of ourselves.
As photographers we are highly subject to Ego, may it be ours, or the one of others (our clients). That doesn’t include the never-ending strike of of ego-boasting platforms social media represents.
So what is Ego ?
Ego is basically how self-conscious we are about everything we do, we calculate, we think, we overthink, we want to be sure we are loved and over-loved by others. Look at me we scream through our social media posts and stories, usually totally faked for the sake of what we want to show the world.
It can also come along in many forms, such as :
- Wanting to be right
- Comparison with others
- Need to put down someone to feel better
- Buying stuff to feel reassured
- Never feeling enough
- Being worried about tomorrow or the future
- fear of the unknown
- multiple social media accounts
- gear porn
Now let me share a story which might relate to you, and see how this can help you grow on a path i have been taking for a few months, let’s even say a couple of years now.
I used to work for a U.N organisation, UNAIDS, for which I was working in the field of IT/web department, in the communications & marketing team. During these times my task was to look after the photo library, photography contracts, deal with photographers worldwide and take care of the photography assignments taking place in Geneva for the General Secretary of UNAIDS, mr Michel Sidibé.
During that time, I also set out to create my own photo studio aside of my work with UNAIDS, so I looked for a Studio space, and designed it, to create events for photographers, and to rent out the space for photographers as well as pursue my skills.
Now that was experience, building my skills, and growing as a photographer. Little did I know that I would be part of the Last In, First Out pack when the organisation restructured, faced with an immediate choice… Studio or IT, but i had 1 month to decide as there was no unemployment revenue possible when leaving a UN Organisation.
So studio Space it was, with almost none to little skills, a rent to pay, some gear to find, I went full on, purchased what I had to, did my best to rent it out, and I held on to it, times were sometimes good, sometimes slow, little profit, leading me to have to live in the studio and leave my flat in Geneva, Switzerland, a few years later, washing myself in my sink, or at the local pool showers to sustain what I felt was my “dream life”.
Clearly, that ego was not helping that much. The came a time of moving on, I took the step of letting go of the studio, I lived 2 hours away with my partner and the kids, and driving 4 hours to rent out the space, in which I would not go and shoot, made no sense. It took me 6 months to accept that idea before letting it go… and that’s one where Ego comes in. Why keep something which is making you unhappy, materialistic stuff, which you work your ass off to keep, and prevents you from just living life ?
2018 came along
Then, since 2018, I have been interested in minimalism, may it be mary kondo, or the minimalists, or through my skimming of my social media or much more. In no way am I blowing my horn by doing that, because I see others loving it and i’m really happy for them, but for me it just didn’t work out. So here I go, getting rid of some stuff, getting some more here and then.
And in 2019, I start looking at my photography, and how ego was totally in the way of my work. I was convinced that I wanted to win awards, be “the best”, I was pushing to “win” over others, putting my work out on awards, contests, having in mind the “red bull Illume” but as a winner, not just taking part (to which I didn’t even register finally, that’s another story).
Yes, EGO ! I learned the hard way, through pain, suffering, disease of close members of my family, that nothing is worth all this. No things, No Awards, No Judgment of others can take out the pain inside you or make you happy over simply enjoying a smile, love and experiences. And the most amazing thing about all this is that we create everything we have in our lives, the good and the bad, as it’s just a representation of who we are inside, a lesson we must learn.
2019 – hit the road Jack !
Facing 2019 with a new mindset, and with new ideas, I looked at the kind of photography I did, how it felt inside, not for the fame, the prizes, the cash, but how it felt inside me… I am starting to listen to my intuition and the LIFE BALANCE needed in our line of work. I am also looking at the gear I use, why have I purchased it ? why do I keep it ? why do I need it ? is it a business need or EGO need ? Do I need this new softbox, flash, lens, camera, computer, etc. ?
on an energetic level and on activities & business side I now question my activities.
What makes me shiver with love, passion, what energises me, what drops my energy levels ? what can I add to what I do to feel boosted within myself, not with others ? (No, needing to go somewhere exotic, do some crazy shit won’t make you happier, it’s another ego boasting activity, but we don’t know until we see it’s not doing anything better).
Aside from this, I’m training myself through meditation, energy healing, and giving myself some time to myself. That has become so beneficial, because I am just learning to love being alone with myself, a cup of tea or coffee ? rock climbing with friends ? mountain-biking ? a trip to the sea ? smell the rain on the trees ? look at others laugh beside me ? It’s a work in progress, but it’s taking me on a stunning path of life and discovering the most amazing people, who push me out of my own boundaries, extending my experience of life.
Minimalism – a true path
I am looking at my minimalism, have set all my gear aside, books, and any other item I have at home and looking at everything with a fresh eye.
- Do I NEED this ?
- Am I just storing it because “I should” with no reason whatsoever ?
- When have i used it last ?
- When do I plan to use it (clear timing, not … some day) ?
- Does anyone I know have use for it ?
With that in mind, car boot sales, garage sales, classifieds websites are our best friends, and I am reducing my gear to what I really use and need for my photography (and that’s still a lot)
My plans ?
Well basically i’m streamlining as you’ve noticed in my latest articles. From social media, materialistic needs, gear, workflow… It’s a bit as if i wanted to find myself totally naked, raw energy, just my skin, the gear i need to create the raw visuals I want to create.
- Gear & travelling must be light
- Profoto B10, B10Plus & A1x will be my go to gear
- Profoto OCF Modifiers, light, pack small, 100% functional
- Fujifilm X-T3’s my bodies (without grip when not in a sandy desert)
- 1 Fstop Anja bag or a decathlon 50 liter backpack
That will reduce to minimal lighting (I see a max of 5 lights for corporate portraits, and then 1 to 3 for other projects).
Everything must fit in 1 backpack with my camera, ready to travel, and simple setups. Too complex ? too heavy ? too much gear ? it’s up for sale !
So, why am I telling you all this ? my rambling along of 10 years of life as a photographer, from part time to full time and some of my life experience ?
Well, I would like you to allow yourself, for your own sake, to put your balls on the table (or your ovaries if you’re girls), put your thoughts in a journal, scribble and really see what’s important to you, in real life, not on social media, not on paper. Feel the energy, the strength in you, and the pain too.
You don’t need to tell your friends, family about it, but the biggest lie you can state is lying to yourself, and we all do to a common extent.
So, have you gone crazy with your Ego ? have you had Ego Needs around the corner ? How has your Ego prevented you from going to the deepest sides of your soul ? How has this ego prevented you from being who you are, and not giving a shit about what others think about what you do, who you are and how you do things ?
If you feel like sharing in comments, or by email as some of you do to keep it more intimate, i’d love to have your thoughts on this, and if you prefer keeping it to yourself but it makes you think, well that’s cool too.
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