Introversion and Photography
Yesterday I came across a link to this post by Carl King where he listed, and simultaneously dispelled, ten misconceptions about introverts. As I read the list I had that weird sensation of reading something that applies so accurately to yourself that it feels like it is about you. Now, I’m fully aware that his list is designed to be somewhat flattering to introverts, and so I am inevitably going to think ‘yeah, that’s me!’, but man… it really is.
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race.
This got me thinking about photographers, and the fact that many of them, in my experience, would probably consider themselves introverted to some degree. Is there something specific about photography, as an experience perhaps, rather than as an artform, that appeals to introverts? Maybe. I know that the reason I started photographing the world was to try to make some sense of it, and it is still the only thing I’ve come across that allows me to do that. The natural codification and categorization of the world that is an inevitable by-product of the photographic process appeals as a method of sifting the immense volume of stimuli around me, and the largely solitary nature of both the shooting and editing processes are a perfect respite from the tiring interactions that fill the rest of my life.
Of course, there is always the possibility that my personality is simply driving me towards certain types of photographic practice. I’m not, for instance, a fashion photographer. I could be wrong, but I imagine that line of work would be more suited to an extrovert. So perhaps it is simply the case that the photographers I know, most of whom make pictures that have some kind of aesthetic or conceptual affinity with my own work, are of a similar personality, and it is this that drives them to pursue a certain set of visual and conceptual goals.
Whilst this is all loosely-formed conjecture, it is interesting to consider the role of the photographer’s personality in the creative process. Would it be possible, I wonder, to look at the work of a wide variety of photographers and make some assumptions about them as people based on the style of photography they produce, and the aesthetic they adhere to? Perhaps this all ties in to the oft-discussed ‘voice’ that people seek within an artist’s work. Perhaps the only way to make photographs that successfully resonates with an audience is to pay close attention to your own personality, and allow it to point the way; to follow your natural instincts and allow them to assemble a body of work that, almost subconsciously, reflects you as an individual.