If you walk paying attention on how your legs walk, you tend to walk in an awkward way. Your best walk is when you walk unaware on how your legs do it. The same way a painter or a writer will do their paintings and writings in an uncomfortable way if they pay attention on their tools and fingers when working. As a photographer I feel that my best photos happen when the camera becomes an extension of my arm, so I don't have to pay much attention on the tool itself which would be in the way of my attention to what I am photographing. Allan Watts exemplify saying that we know when the shoes or belt we wear is conformable when we walk and forget about it. If the shoes or any other accessory we wear keeps remind us about itself, catching our attention because we feel something about it, it means it's not comfortable and it becomes a distraction, on the way of our attention to other things and to our spontaneity. The very same happens with self-awareness. When we are self-aware, that means the attention of oneself before any other attention, reminding us about who we are, what we are doing and how we are doing it, we become uncomfortable and awkward, because we have our attention is our body position, body movements and its many meanings. It's watching ourselves as if in the eyes of others (who are actually watching us) that blocks our spontaneity. This is why the best actors are the ones who forget they are acting, by stopping watching what they are doing as if in the eyes of an other person (their spectators in a theater for example), and become or incorporate their acting characters, feeling its pain and pleasure as their own. Otherwise the acting looks fake, artificial, awkward, or simply acting.
Women (specially the attractive ones) often suffer the stress of unwanted attention. Even worst when it turns into catcalling. You get the awareness of the dirty eyes from others. When one get too much of it it becomes toxic, polluting the attention and mood in it. We know that many men catcall because they know, or have a high expectancy, that women and others around will not react and confront them, or repress them, about it. They feel an individual freedom to do it, as well as a cultural freedom or duty as a prove to others and themselves that they are a man, a real man. Like years ago, when I was with a friend walking in the streets of Israel, I noticed a beautiful woman who my eyes felt hypnotized at, but I only became aware of my gaze when I notice she acting uncomfortable and I quick looked away from her. I told my friend how uncomfortable and unhappy I feel when I make women feel uncomfortable with my attention to their beauty. He told me that as a man I am not supposed to be ashamed of making women uncomfortable, otherwise it shows them I am insecure and women like men who are confident and dominant in attitude, like looking at a woman with no shame when attracted to her, according to him. And he's right, but only when the woman feel attracted to such man, so she wants his attention.
If a man is confident and spontaneous it shows the target woman that he believes to have something to offer, as well as good experiences that lead to his confidence. It can be confirmed ones really have what to offer, on the eyes of others around, when the guy is around friends and women, the people who are enjoying his "acting power", as Frederic Lordon call it. Eventually his confidence ends up convincing someone that he has indeed something to offer. While at the same time, he is also always risking of putting some women in an uncomfortable situation, specially if he is alone, or depending the situation such as when she doesn't have any interest on him.
A man may be more conscious and cautious in order to make sure women who he interacts with feels completely safe and comfortable, who consequently may feel more comfortable around him, but with the risk of being over cautious with a woman who may be interested on him and expecting a confident, dominant, doubtless attitude of him towards her, that if not shown he becomes an insecure man to her (a socially not man enough, because for society a real men is always sure about himself, about what they do, about what they have to offer).
Robert Levenson did a long study with couples emotion, finding that the longer the allele in serotonin transport gene, the less sensitive the person is to the environment emotional stimulus, while the sorter is the allele the more sensitive is the person to emotional stimulus. If we place two person in an situation that stimulates them to feel happy and then sad, the person with shorter allele will react more to such stimulus, feeling more happy and then more sad than the person with the longer allele. It could be the reason why people mood and atmosphere around me causes great effect on my mood as well. So if I feel a person is feeling unconformable it makes me feel uncomfortable as well, such as the woman who I was gazing. If I am not wrong I guess we can call it empathy, the counter-transference of putting yourself on the other person shoes and feel as the other person feel or may be feeling.
I watched a documentary about Incels (self-denominating involuntary celibates men) and what got my attention the most was when the teacher, in the documentary, says that it's not merely about feeling sexually frustrated but about feeling socially excluded. I used to believe that women are more or less friendly to men as reaction to how men approach women and condition women behavior. It may be true to a certain point and places but it's not an universal law, it vary from place to place and from people to people. After living and moving among different countries and cultures I came to realized it's a vicious cycle, with men and women conditioning each other. I can tell that where women are friendly even when rejecting a man, men tend to accept better the rejection because they don't feel segregated, humiliated but socially accepted and understood. The contrary, with empty aloofness, scare or disgust women or any human being can cause others irritation, because it means social segregation, as if you are treating others inferior than you and it makes others to feel not accepted socially (not welcome for the social joy). Some people may say they only need to grow thick skin and brush it out, but it's easier to judge people as over sensitive when the one who is judging have close friends or a family, from which they have a sense of belonging in this world, otherwise one feel alienated, displaced, and the number of people aging in solitude is growing as never before.
Solitude is nowadays a disease. As social animals being alone, feeling segregated, causes us emotional distress with side effects worst than smoke and drinking. Lonely people have a shorter living expectancy, higher risk of heart disease and have higher chances of develop cancer, all because of the distress of feeling socially excluded.
In a social media some Americas were saying that they are over stressed because they work too long hours, which is true but in Europe, such as in Nordic countries and specially in Germany, people are also often easily over stressed. I believe it's because people don't like to interact with strangers. When you feel apart/alienated from others around you feel hostile. When I first arrived in Germany I wasn't much bothered by women in supermarket counter turning their face away from me when I was paying for my groceries, without me doing any kind of verbal or visual interaction with them. Later I noticed that some women also turn their back to me when I am being introduced to their friend's cycle, as well as when stepping in public transport I notice women looking angry at me for apparently no reason at all, they all seem in distress. I thought first it was some kind of xenophobia, and it actually is to a certain extend when you feel socially alienated and afraid of others, disconnected from strangers who we have to be careful about. Talking about it, it was confirmed to me that women in Germany do it as precaution, just in case I, as a man, hit on them and such kind of misandry is not only acceptable but expected as part of their culture. Whenever I talk about it people tell me that it will never change it, that it's their culture or a simply women thing (as saying that I have to forget about it and pretending everybody is doing fine), despite the fact I have never experienced anything like it anywhere else I have been other than in Germany. To me it's like saying that it's ok to be racist or antisemitic just in case, and it should be accepted because it's a cultural thing, which I don't agree. It will never change indeed because people refuse to talk about it. It it's not only bad for men who suffer misandry but also for women, because if they behave like this it means they fear others as have the potential of being highly hostile against them, even in one of the most safe places in the world like Germany.
I see people burning out for small stupid things that could be easily solved with a little talk. But people hesitate and avoid talking afraid of others reaction, creating a kind of social phobia. Instead people expect to conform, so everyone should conform on certain behavior and agree to things which help them not need to talk and interact with others. If you don't conform people show their reprehension with dirty look and other kinds of frustrating reaction, and in such social control you feel being hostile. Little mistakes are not acceptable and frustrate people for have to deal with strangers. The Nordics like to blame the weather but in Ireland and Canada people are much more relaxed and easy even with their dark winters and wet weathers (because they have a more liberal culture - I am using the "liberal " word not in a political meaning here), because they don't feel alienated from others.
There are two kinds of freedom because there are two kind of self in every person: the individual and the social, each of them limiting the freedom of the other to a certain extend. People today talk a lot about freedom but If not considering the two kinds of freedom the talk is just a no sense ideological sophism. Social freedom means safety from others in society according to Montaigne, which requires a certain control and limit (responsibility) on the individual freedom. If you want a total individual freedom you are being against social freedom (individual safety from others in society). Despite the nihilists, one of the main reason (if not the main reason) we live in society and think society is for the individual safety sake.
We live in a society of control, which Deleuze described to be in gradual change from what Foucault called Disciplinary society. The disciplinary society may not be completely vanished yet but many of its characteristics we find still strong in more conservative societies. Although Germany have a very liberal approach to individual affairs, the German social conduct and mentality to changes (which they are averse) are very conservative. So we can still find strong characteristics of a disciplinary society in Germany, that is based on social hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and examination that induce people to control their behavior to a standard. The first means that people has the duty to observer everyone's behavior. This is why in Germany it's normal and a cultural thing to stare or give long gazes to others in the streets. If you act different people watch you, not as spectators but as judges, because you are suppose to conform. It's important and kind of funny to have to tell that most Germans are not even consciously aware about it, but unconsciously they react to it the same way a person who claims to not like or care about Picasso paintings, who despite their claims they somatically react otherwise without realizing it. It means that both men and women experience unwanted attention and suffer the natural human distress about it, of feeling constantly observed and consequently behaving awkwardly and in introversion (which Germans are well aware and considering part of their cultural personality, although not questioning its causes), for watching themselves as in the eyes of others and not being able to be spontaneous. Consequently, as part of conformity duty, you are not expect to question much but to accept, to conform. Questions are often seem as an attempt to not accepting, to not conform, to break the rules, to promote changes.
The conformity seems to be part of an other psychological aspect: Identity. Before Nation-States people had their identities associated to ethnicity. The use of ethnicity to judge other individuals based on a supposed natural tendencies of their ethnical qualities and vices. Some countries today, like in Germany, strong kept some aspect of it. Reason why we find so many people born in Germany, from second or third generation of immigrant families, still being seen and called as Turkish, Italians, Portugueses, etc. The concept of nationality came with Enlightenment values, that every person has to be seen as equal and responsible for their own individual success and failures, which required the formation of Nation-States, where the political body would be apart from the social body. So under the Nation-State comes the nationality, under which one is supposed to be seen not as belonging to an ethnical value but seen as equal under the law and included in the society identity regardless their blood origin. Many countries in Europe conserved the tradition of seeing the individual not a mere individual belonging to the nation, but as a individual belonging before anything else to an ethnicity (and its supposed mentality, qualities and vices) and conformity (the mentality of people who try to know you by asking you where you are from and what your profession is, instead of trying to know and understand your world perspective as an individual). To conform is a way to feel belonging to a group, as being socially included, as have its identity. In such view, when questioned about one social conforming and group perspectives, they feel as if their identity is being attacked.
Along with it all there is the social willful blindness. Oliver Sacks narrates that Tourette's syndrome was well reported with many cases and with a rich literature from it's discover in 1885 until the end of its century. Charcot, Freud, Babinski and Tourette (the syndrome discoverer) were among the last of their professionals with a combined vision of soul and body, the "it" and the "I", in neurology and psychiatry. At the turn of the century professionals started to interpret the "I" (the mind) as independent or apart from the "it" (the body). The soulless neurology and bodyless psychology. In this change, not only the understanding of Tourette's syndrome disappeared but the syndrome itself had disappeared as well. No more reported cases, no more literature about it. It was took as extinct. Many professionals even thought the past literature was a mythical report of naive imaginative professionals from the past, because they could not be converted in the new framework tradition of 20th century neuroscience and psychology. Oliver Sacks claimed to have never seen a patient with Tourette's syndrome, until in 1971 when he published an article about Tics in the Washington Post. Many people who read it wrote to Oliver Sacks telling him that they have the symptoms he had described in the article. After visiting one of his correspondents, Sacks realized that the man he went visit had Tourette's syndrome. Not only that, after the visit, Oliver Sacks could easily identify many people in the streets of New York with Tourette's syndrome, only by walking home and from home to work.
Often, when I try to talk about such subjects, many Germans tell me that they don't stare, they just look a little longer to others and there is nothing wrong about it. But then, why women behave in such distress and men have apprehensive manners? Because of the lack of talking and awareness it seems to me that women think they are the only ones being gazed at, and men are the only ones gazing at, as if it's (only) a man thing and not a German culture thing. And it's half funny and half depressing experiencing every day being stared at by women which causes me to naturally look back at them, because it's what we do when we feel there are eyes watching us. But when I look back at them they react in distress as if I have any interest on them in particular, as if I am being a toxic man when in fact they are unaware that they have been inconveniently staring at me first. When I avoid to look back, pretending I don't notice they are looking at me, their stares became even stronger, longer and annoying, because we know they are not looking and judging with good eyes. I am a visual disturbance.
I am not suggesting that the privatization of a social problems is exclusive to Germanic culture, it's actually an industry which by ignoring a problem that is social, people are induced to believe that is not the society that has to change but you as individual who has a problem for feeling affected and react negatively to society's problems, convincing people to join classes and buy materials for meditation, going to experts talking about self-improvement, buying self-help books and even convincing people that they need to do more sports. Meditation and sports are good in themselves for personal health, but not good when used as tools to ignore that people stress is a social condition and not an individual one.
A lot of Germans (at least in the internet, which is a small group that do not represent the nation as a whole) get really irritated and aggressive against me when I touch such subject, because they convince themselves that I am being against their culture and consequently their country, when in fact my allele in serotonin transport gene is probably way too short and feeling the heavy atmosphere among women (and men) in distress, storming reacting or in fear for no apparent reason, effects me, and I can't help thinking about it, trying to understand it (as I try to to understand societies, humans and life in general) and hope for its eventual change although I don't have much faith on changes. I don't have anything against the culture or the country but I care about others well being, regardless cultures, ethnicity and nationality. Specially my well being. I just don't like to ignore the problem pretending it's a individual problem. It's a social problem that people may try to ignore in order to conform, but somatically they can not ignore it.
I remember 15 years ago when I use to see people everywhere talking about the democratization of information and learning thanks to the internet, along with the democratization of expression where anyone can share their knowledge and opinions. The free information accessible to all. It's ironic seeing fake-news and conspiracy theory popularized nowadays.
When I was about 14 years old, in 1997, bullying and other sort of offenses was considered kind of normal, at least in my neighborhood. Often such kind of provocation wasn't taken seriously despite of verbal aggressiveness. This kind of communication was somehow the standard nevertheless, meaning people verbally attacking and defending themselves with further attacks. It was in Sao Paulo (Brazil) which I believe to have an aggressive communication culture probably because of socio-economic gaps, along or as consequence of social segregation and prejudices. Prejudices often disguised as jokes.
In a weekend when I was returning home, I met one of my friends arguing with a bunch of other guys a couple of years old than us. They were calling him stupid and laughing at him because he said Alberto Santos-Dummont was the inventor of wrist watch. This was an information that I also believed to be true but back then I would never waist time and get angry trying to convince others about what I believed to be true. Maybe because life seemed to be already too stressful back then that I would rather avoid any more of it. So I called my friend inviting him to hang out somewhere else, and somehow helping him to distance from the situation he was in. Still stupefied while we were walking away, he was explaining me the other guys didn't want to believe on him. I replied to him suggesting to let it go. At that time I had not conceptualized it but I felt that there are many people who are not curious and interested to know things but only in self-affirmation. I feel I am right so you must be wrong (It has something to do with identity that I will expatiate in an other blog post eventually). Without any real argument to explain they are right they rely on verbal violence by offending and making the opponent angry, in order to feel as the winner of the argument. Honestly, this kind of conversation and its violence is what I see being popularized the most in the internet.
Recently I have been wondering if we really can teach others. My thinking is that probably people only learn things if they want to learn (curiosity or duty) or if the situation is conducive to learning. If such thinking is somehow true the goal of teaching is not only providing information but also help to create the situation that is propitious for learning. And this may be the reason why the internet is dominated by fake-news and conspiracy theory believers. A place where everyone can spread ideas of any kind in a moment of economic and, consequently, social distress.
When I began with street photography I was apprehensive about people reaction. What would they think? What if they get angry? I then thought that if there are others doing it I can do it as well. It was in Ireland where I had the mostly friendly strangers experience ever but my first attempt of stop someone and ask if I could take a portrait of them was considered a shameful failure by me at the time. What my subject said that made me feel ashamed was a single simple word: "No". So I went home frustrated for not obtaining what I was expecting. I watched some videos about street photography and one hour later I was in the street trying again. This time I told myself to not expect anything. If people says "no" it's ok and there is nothing wrong about it. Actually, we are supposed to take risks in order to learn and grow, in order to see what is possible and what is not, and in order to loose ties to expectations that narrow our perception about things. With this twist of mind I endured a couple of other "no"s before hear a "Sure". From that moment on I felt there was nothing to worry about.
With experience I learned to improve my communication. Being more direct and specific, ask as a suggestion or as an offer and not as a expectation or demand. One of the main reason of violent communication is the thinking that what others are asking is an order instead of a request. People hate to do things when they are demanded to and the natural reaction is to reject. On the other hand we all like to feel useful and helpful. Antonio Damasio tell in his book Looking for Spinoza that our brain produce Serotonin, which gives us a well-being feeling, when we help or cooperate with others as a team. It's part of our empathy which make us place ourselves in others shoes, sensing others emotion and feelings as our own.
Marshall Rosenberg, who wrote No Violent Communication, tells a story about an interview with a Nazi war criminal, who was asked "Was it hard to send ten of thousand of people to death?", which he answered "No, it was easy. Easy because our language makes it easy". He then explained that his fellow officers had a name for this language: Amtsprechen, the bureaucratic language. A language that denies option, consequently it denies responsibility. It is interesting to know that there are many people who can not distinguish between rule or law and morality, which is the same as distinguish can and can't from should and shouldn't. When we try to obtain some kind of alternative collaboration for a solution which would help make all the parties happier or less stressed such kind of people are not able to do it, they start quote what they believe to know about the law and their rights, meaning "I can do it so I will not do what you what me to do". Basicly they view others request as demand and in return react in a defensive way. They don't understand the saying "Just because you can do it, it doesn't mean you should do it (in consideration of others)".
In Ireland, after I got used to it, most people I approached was happy to let me photographing them, which they saw as a request which they could help with. In Germany most of my attempts with street portrait result is rejection, some people even get angry with my approach and can become verbally violent. I see it as a social phobia, worry that I want do something bad with the photo such as judge them or use the image for commercial purpose. worry about what might happens with a photo someone took of them, where can it end and who can see it. Worry about my approach has a second intention such as sell things, demand money or sexual intention when I am approaching women. In short, a lot of expectations which place people in the fear zone.
I think the coolest Germans are in Hamburg, although I have not been in most German's region yet. It was in Hamburg that I met Lucie Nechanická. We used to meet and wander in the streets to photograph it together. When she saw me approaching strangers asking if I could take their portrait she looked apprehensive, saying that she would not feel comfortable doing it, which reminded me when I was attempting it for the first time in Dublin.
Even still doing it in Germany I didn't feel as confident and easy as in Ireland, so I approach people with less frequency. But have Lucie on my side was different because she is a woman transmitting other women a sense of safeness with my approach. They actually became more friendly thanks to her. It was most evident when I was waiting Lucie in a train station and around me there were other people waiting to meet their friends. I saw a woman with a cool outfit, nice hair and interesting tatoo on her leg so I came to her asking if I could take her portrait. She looked at me with doubt and unsure but suddenly Lucie arrived saying "you don't waist time" to me. After my subject saw Lucie and realized we knew each other, she readily accepted to be photographed.
Street portrait in Hamburg is much easier than in other places I have been in Germany, but people still have some kind of fear about other people reaction. It's a different world than in Ireland where I could talk and photograph most people specially women without any tension, and I think it reflects in the way people communicate, in their expectations and consequently in how they learn and perceive other kinds of experiences.
Unlike when I was a boy, I have recently engaged in useless argument with people who didn't want to believe on what I was saying (in the internet), consequently I was annoyed and offended with others provocation, calling me stupid and names. Later on I was wondering why I was behaving like this. What changed? Did I forget my youth knowledge? And the only thing I could think about was my reality change, which created different expectation and frustration, therefore changing my experiences and learning. I am now in a process of no violence redeem.
The photography field attracts many technology and machines enthusiasts who come with the technicist attention to it. I see it as one of the reason for the commercial photography to be seen and used as standard or reference for quality among many people interested in photography (although the debate on preferences between perfectionism and rusticity exist since Ancient Greece and probably even before). The other reason is the fact that commercial photography dominate our visual experience wherever we are through publicity. Commercial photographers are mostly technicians who create images based on someone else ideas. Most of it is technical reproduction and solutions, even the advertise photography in fashion magazines that mimic conceptual fashion photography. Depending how alienated the photographer is in this approach to photography he may comes to the conclusion that what goes beyond such technical and commercial standard is poor executed or wrong.
Fortunately photography is not a black and white thing limited to right and wrong. The meaning of anything is in the context. When we talk about quality we have to think about the context and meaning the work has. The commercial photography has its context and language, its main purpose is the tangibility, make the product or service presented in the image as tangible to the viewers, as if the spectator can touch and possess the object in the photo with their eyes. The visual sense appeal. It could not be different when the goal of the image is to sell a sensual joy to people's eyes and stimulate possession desires. As John Berger says in Ways of Seeing, The publicity image offers an alternative for the public, a better version of themselves, that they can obtain for the price of the product.
Photography that has other purposes will, or should, use other language. The language that fit its message and context and which can be many. None of them are better or worst than the other nor more or less correct. Each of them are only good and bad based on their own context, public and message.
Siri Hustvedt in her essay "Playing, wild thoughts, and novels underground" refer to writing in this quote but it actually applies to any kind of artistic work: "There are no rules for writing novels. Those who believe there are rules are pedants and poseurs and do not deserve a minute of our time. Modes of writing and various schools come and go: Grub Street, Naturalism, the nouveau roman, nagical realism. The novel remains."
When I photograph I often stay away from the sensual appeal which Cicero in ancient Rome used to call as the sense corruption, because it works on provoking anxieties. Instead I like to express my feelings and experiences. Technicality is about have control, the technical control of a machine precision appreciated from automated tools, catching our attention for the tool settings and control for the precise control result. In order to better express my feelings and experience I rather let this technical control aside, I take the advantage of the manual control which comes with my spontaneous human touch and failure. Or even when using automated tools, trust the automated failure as my own human failure with the machine, assuming therefore my sincere experience and adding it to the narrative context where it belongs.
Brené Brown, who wrote The Gifts of Imperfection, explains that it's important to understand the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism. “Healthy striving is self-focused: "How can I improve?" Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think?”. And I think it's important to remember that we should improve in relation to ourselves on or own language, context and message. Not in relation to a pre-determined standard or have somebody else as reference of improvement goal/quality. This is not the same as be inspired by other creators and their works, because we all get inspiration from other creators, even unintended, in any way.
At the end, I don't want the viewers of my photos seeing themselves transported in the image by provoking anxieties. I want them to take the image as a memory or dream that inspire their feelings and contemplative own creative imagination. Or at least tell us what or who we are, or who I am.
We need rules as reference or start point when we are introduced to new activities, when we have no much from ourselves to put in a new work but practice, get inspired through copy, to fit in looking for results with a pre-determined expectation. We can get great pleasure on reproduction, from the empathic recognition of other creators and social feeling, or only for the pleasure of tools manipulation and the transformation observation. By doing so we can develop our own feeling, voice and personal way to create when we have a voice to express.
I was watching a documentary a while back, about french soldiers returning home after the second great war, the war which France was the country that had more dead and injured soldiers, maybe because it was the country that sent more men to the war. When survivor and fit-to-work soldiers returned home after the war, looking forwards their families and labour routine that was occupied by women during the war, they found themselves lost, as lack of identity and purpose. As soldiers those men got used to follow orders, giving themselves to the battalion rhythm for its greater performance, the fellowship was their identity. Later on in society, working in their family farms, shops and industry they found themselves on their own with their individual decisions for their personal life and activities, and specially their own rhythm. What was missing was their inner voice.
I can't help on seeing some similarities in the corporation team work culture specially in the 80's and 90's, when they wanted workers to see the business which they worked for as part of their family, where one find their purpose and identity through the job and culture provided by the business and their people.
Behind it all there is the fixation, the focus which people becomes alienated. As Frédéric Lordon describes, alienation is not loss but fixation. The more limited is your attention and experiences range (fixed) the more alienated you find yourself. Through alienation it is easier to drive a person or a group attention, work and goals to a determined direction, the direction aimed by their leader or ruler which the followers take as their own.
The Teutonic (Germanic) tribes has such principal as tradition. The military and hierarchical rules in society culture by the Prussians for example, expecting people to give up their own personal goals and interests in order to follow their social hierarchy determinism, looking forwards the to the greater completion of their "nation" (society) as their individual aim, instead of looking towards climb the social hierarchy. Like this workers can focus on only improve their ability on their own work and behavior expected from their social hierarchy (like in the army), instead of the distraction of dreams, looking and expecting eventually to get somewhere else. It's alienation where people get attached to rules for their guidance, and which one deep alienated they get lost, disorientated, messy, when there is no leader and their rules to follow as their own goals and identity.
The opposite is the ability to listen to our own inner voice, our timing, have a wide scope to observe and react in accord and spontaneously to each situation by following our guts, when rules are not what give us direction anymore but what make us feel limited, limiting our experiences, our observations, or experimentation, our self learning and expression. When desalination becomes necessary because rules funnel us to the alien aim that we take as our own.
Listening to our own inner voice is not the same a individualism and selfishness because when we are listen our inner voice we are listen others around us as well, sensing the world around us and trusting our our feelings. Then our expression take others in consideration.
Rules are for reproduction, and for creators who can not feel or trust their inner voice [yet]. A true creative work is a work that has its own voice and rhythm. A sincere self expression and feeling.
Photography is not easier to make art, it is just easier to have confidence. We have a natural feeling to find easier to do things we feel confident doing.
"While photography is the easiest medium in which to be confident it is the hardest medium in which to have a distinct personal vision." Chuck Close.
Photography is the easiest form of the art of mimesis "the copy of reality". And is the copy of reality on which people are usually more attract of. And is the copy of reality most people will judge as good quality work.
But when trying to do something else a part from mimesis photography can be even more challenging than other form of art. Because it quite completely copy of reality, especially now a days with digital that most people don't even need to craft their work in order to have a image ready to print, so most people with a camera will be confident that they are doing a good photo as soon as they can see a good image quality (not good art) in their LCD screen.
It means, to go beyond mimesis, painting, sculpture, etc are easier than photography. It also means that to self expression in photography may be more difficult because you have to work with real things that you photograph instead of create images straight from the imaginary. And that's why photography is the hardest medium to have a distinct personal vision.
You don't need much skills to press a button on the automatic camera or to throw paintings or mixing colours on canvas, or even to create shapes in sculpture, as far you can do it with good composition, harmony or even message. But photography and other medias can demand more skills and craft if you want to make something else.
If you ask a child if painting is easy they will tell that it is very easy because they feel confident doing so. Until they grow up and is told that the good stuff looks like things.
Rules are for reproduction,
Art, thinking, reality and the contemplative mind.
My attention is not in technical perfectionism.