Small Doses # 75 | Ambrotype | Wet-plate Collodion

Should we really be posting this right now?

We’re sick of social media. We’re sick of how we present and position ourselves on it. At the same time, it also feels like we haven’t felt this urgency to connect with people in years. This is us getting vulnerable, so bear with it.

In a way, this is a continuation of our post on instagram from a few days ago. If you missed our post: this is where we have an existential crisis when it comes to the internet and dealing with the fact that it is an important tool when it comes to work.

I have no idea how many times we’ve gone back and forth debating whether this was really the time for such a personal post. Our struggles seem so banal when we take a look outside our own lives and compare them with others. People are struggling. There are doctors and nurses and teachers and people making a difference out there – they’re struggling. This just feels a little selfish to write.

First off, we hope you and your loved ones are well. Since Marília is immunosuppressed and I have a heart condition, we don’t leave the house. At all. We are completely isolated, and we hope that if you’re able to – you’re doing the same. We also wanted to thank all our friends and family that are essential workers and are out dealing with this. Thank you. We know you’ll eventually read this, so just know that we did feel silly writing it. And that close to your struggles, this feels shallow.

Second, we wanted to thank you for asking about our small doses. It’s bewildering seeing such a personal and trivial thing have an impact on people that followed our posts from so long ago. So thank you for nagging us into not allowing this series to die off.

If you made your way here, chances are you saw our instagram post from a few days ago. More than likely you saw us pouring our hearts out. And in hindsight, it felt a little useless.

Not because our feelings don’t make sense. We know we’re feeling a little weird about the wedding photography industry. We’ve been doing this for long enough to know something is off. It might only be temporary. It might just be a weird phase the market is going through. But maybe we’re feeling like our post was a little useless because it’s something that goes way beyond the wedding industry and it’s affecting our lives in other ways.

We’re at a crossroads. We need to find a way to tackle this feeling. To change how we cope with it. Is it the wedding industry? Is Social Media in general? Is it how we use it for work? How we use it to talk to our friends? We need to figure out how we’re going to position ourselves online. Find a solution. Create new alternatives.

“Taking a break from social media” and “pretending we don’t need it” really isn’t working. We aren’t really positive why we’re burned out – but we have a few ideas:

The way instagram makes it so easy to fake perfection.

Which ironically, doesn’t exist. This brings home shallow comparisons with the perfectly seeming -but false – lives of others, and this breaks me. I (Frankie) have dealt with this over and over again as an issue in therapy. It’s a problem I have. It bothers me and I can’t shake it off. Can’t snap out of it. I compare myself to something I know isn’t real – this sounds INSANE when I type it out.

This way instagram makes it so easy to fake perfection has been shaping too many aspects of modern culture. We need to rethink it. We need to talk about it. Have you considered how tt has played a part in everything from architecture to design? Tourism to religion? And let’s not even get started into how it has affected weddings.

Well, let’s. This is what breaks me the most. This makes me lose sleep. It makes a difference whether I drive home happy or screaming from photographing a wedding.

Weddings have become more and more “instagrammable”. And with the “instagrammatization” of weddings, they have become more perfect. A little too perfect. The same way Disney World is too perfect – it’s not real. Nothing can go wrong. My day needs to be instagram perfect!

What happens when a celebration of love between two people meets the unquenchable need for likes? For instant gratification? How about the egos of wedding vendors who seem to be there not for the couple but to post another wedding on instagram? Constantly looking for that like. But only sharing half-truths – and this has us asking questions.

Not everything is perfect, but only perfection ever gets shared by the wedding industry – and this makes the real aspects of a wedding lose a little of its incredible meaning to us. Where are the shots of people crying? What happens when it rains? Let me see that formal portrait that’s gonna last generations. We’re guilty of this, but we only really share photos of brides and grooms. Sometimes we’ll post a bride by herself – that’s what we get likes on.

But are we only there on a Saturday because we love our jobs? Are weddings easy money to all vendors? Obviously not, otherwise you’ve never really worked 15 hour wedding days. The thing most people don’t know is that most Saturdays, when we get to work, we have to question our own ethics and beliefs.

These last ten years, we’ve spend countless Saturdays trying not to break down. From being told by the owner of one of the most expensive venues in Brazil “vendors don’t know how to use toilets” and that we needed to make sure we knew how to flush before using their “vendors only” toilet. Or by flying across the country to photograph a wedding in the middle of nowhere but going to bed hungry in our bug-ridden hotel room because we weren’t allowed to eat anything at the wedding. And we didn’t have a rental car. And there was nowhere open in the middle of the night we could get food at in such a small town. We would NEVER post that on instagram.

People increasingly look for professionals that create this perfect-life persona online.

And for professionals who don’t mind perpetuating this behavior as a “lifestyle” on social media. This is something that is viewed as “important” by clients now. The professionals who go along with this are granted a gift from the algorithms and this now affects how much work they’ll be able to do in a year. They’re all trapped in the Big Brother house together. Some create fake content, other consume it. They slide down their nights away, looking for a more perfect life. The perfect “cool” destination. The perfect wedding.

It isn’t fair to judge these professionals. Only oneself could know their personal boundaries and how well they are able to cope. Perhaps coping with having to find balance: on one hand, being able to promote their work. On the other, carrying this burden of these negative aspects they never share with anyone.

Every wedding photographer we know has a different reason to do this thing we all love. Many of our good friends aren’t bothered by the same things that break us. So this isn’t personal. We understand. It’s the way this game is played today.

Weddings have become more and more “instagrammable”. And with the “instagrammatization” of weddings, they have become more perfect. A little too perfect. The same way Disney World is too perfect – it’s not real. Nothing can go wrong. My day needs to be instagram perfect!

The question we have, as people and as busines is: Do we want to play the game with these rules? To be honest, I’m not sure we can. It’s not something that feels right. And this is why I think we’re a little burned out and haven’t been able to post much on social media these past few months.

So how can we use Social Media in a more honest way with our own personalities and beliefs to promote our work?

Truth is: we haven’t found an answer. But we would really like to go back to having a conversation with people here, on the blog and on instagram.

We’ve been feeling this for years and it has been getting progressively worse – so last year we really ended up not using instagram. And for two photographers in their late 30s, there was only one place two photographers wanting to get away from those bright screens could go hide in. We hid in the dark. A place where we’re not afraid to make mistakes. Far away from the wedding industry but close to everything that has made us love photography over and over again for all these years. This was a breath of fresh air.

It’s in the dark where we dream when we’re asleep. Being allowed to hide in the darkroom for so many hours a week for so many months, learning a process that has intrigued us for so long, was a dream come true. A deep breath when we needed one most.

There are other ways to see the world. There are artists that know much more than you. There is depth in art outside of weddings. Chase it. Learn a new process. Make time to learn from other ways of telling stories – some so far from ours and the people we look up to.

These were months when we spent every waking moment waiting for those few seconds in our days when the developer hit the wet plate and we washed our plates away to stop the process and see. It’s in the dark that we dream. And for a few mysterious seconds every week, we saw our dreams come true on a wet collodion plate.

I think that for now, we aren’t sure of where we are or where we want to be. Hiding in the dark makes it all a lot easier for us, but thank you for getting us out into the light once in a while.

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