We are our choices

“We are our choices.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

As an artist, as a photographer, as a human being – we continually make choices. The sum of these choices, both big and small, define who we are.

  • What kind of camera do you use? Phone, DSLR or Film?
  • Do you prefer to shoot indoors or outdoors?
  • What is your favorite toy to photograph?
  • Do you want your photos to be humorous or serious?
  • Do you enjoy sharing your photos on social media or prefer to keep them private?
  • If you use social media, what’s your favorite platform: Facebook, Instagram, G+, Flickr, EyeEm, 500px, Twitter, Tumbler, Snapchat, Vine?
  • Do you edit your photos? If so do you do it a lot or a little?
  • Do you use Lightbox, Aperture, Snapseed or Photoshop for editing?
  • Do you write your own stories to accompany your images, use quotes from others, follow an existing movie script or talk about your life and interests?
  • Do you get up early or stay up late to chase the best light?
  • Do you enjoy the company of other toy photographers or are you a lone wolf?
  • Do you practice your craft every day, only when you have time or only when inspiration hits?
  • What kind of photographer are you: landscape, travel, product, still life, narrative or something completely different?
  • Do you take your toys with you when you travel? Or does that make you uncomfortable?
  • Do your family and friends know what you do for fun?
  • Do you choose to clean your home, answer a work email, watch a TV show or set up your next photo?

I’ve had to answer every one of these questions (and a few more) at some point in the last five years. Each decision has slowly defined both me and my work; each decision has been another step on my creative journey. I may be in the ‘right’ place or the ‘wrong’ place, I don’t know, I’m just in my place. It’s a place I’m comfortable with. I realize it’s not a popular place, it’s not where the cool kids hang out and it’s certainly not a profitable place. It’s simply my place.

Whatever choices you’ve made along your own creative journey I hope you appreciate and cherish them. They’re what defines you as well as what makes your photography unique.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

~ Shelly

I want to thank everyone who has participated in our “Why?” series over the last two years. In each of the 20 individual stories we’re offered an insight into the creative choices that each artist took; sometimes by intention sometimes by instinct. I hope you’ll take a moment to read through the entires series and consider writing your own. Even if you don’t show anyone the results, I promise you’ll understand yourself and your creative process a little better. 

Is there anyone you would like to suggest for this series? 

Waiting for Lilo.
Waiting for Lilo.
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7 years ago

I nominate you Shelly.

7 years ago
Reply to  Shelly

Your 275 blog post explain that you are looking for that next ‘toy photography high’ but no, I don’t think they substitute for a ‘why’ post. Maybe you and me are more similar and can’t write a ‘why’ post because we would need to write a ‘when’ post. When I do this…

7 years ago
Reply to  Shelly

Same question, different perspective.

Leila (Brickandmordor)

“Waiting for Lilo.” – so beautiful! Is Lilo still out there surfing and Stitch is waiting for her to catch her last wave? Or is Lilo still scarfing down a plate of kalua pork before their sunset surf sesh? Or is Stitch waiting for LEGO to come out with a Lilo minifig? ;)

7 years ago

This made me think pre-morning coffee. No mean feat! And if there’s no cool kids hanging out at your place, then I don’t want to be a cool kid!
“Well I’m not a cool guy anymore
as if I ever was before.”
Descendents – Coolidge
And FYI, our home is always ‘country clean’, the TV often off and work emails are only ever answered during work hours. To the toy room! :D

7 years ago

Hmm, have to think now Perhaps I should write down something for myself. Never been thinking about that.

Doug G.
Doug G.
7 years ago

Thank you for this post Shelly. I loved it. Staring with Sartre and ending with Beckett no less! This arrived at the perfect time for me. (And it’s all about me, right?)

Doug G
7 years ago
Reply to  Shelly

Thanks Shelly. I think you know I’m a new foster to adopt parent of a magical six year old. In my limited experience, every day (every 1.7 seconds?) as a parent is a reminder about choices. Your post spoke to me about choices and intention and motivation. I love taking time to explore those things for myself and with my son. And doing so about this odd plastic passion is enriching and fun. And then there’s Lilo as Godot.

James Garcia
7 years ago

Great post, Shelly! It really got me thinking. It’s funny, I have answers for all (or at least most) of these questions, but have never really asked them of myself. They were just choices I made as I went along, for whatever reason (some out of convenience, some because of my initial artistic sensibilities), not necessarily conscious decisions… I wonder how that is for everyone else?

7 years ago

This blog is amazing! There are a lot of interesting posts around here. I’m very glad I found it, thanks to Shelly posts in Instagram. I love the lists so I try to answer most of the questions, haha. What kind of camera do you use? Phone, DSLR or Film? – Fujifilm Finepix S8200. – Film: I’m waiting to buy a DSLR. If you have suggestions, thanks a lot! Do you prefer to shoot indoors or outdoors? – I love them both. What is your favorite toy to photograph? – LEGO Star Wars. Do you want your photos to be… Read more »

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