Are you suffering from photography FOMO (fear of missing out)?

(Image credit: Verity Milligan)
Meet the pro: Verity Milligan

verity milligan

(Image credit: verity milligan)

Verity is a landscape and commercial photographer based in Birmingham, UK. She’s also an ambassador for Zeiss lenses and a workshop leader with Light and Land.

There has been something on my mind recently about the current state of landscape photography, and perhaps indicative of the times in which we currently live. That something is the fear of missing out, or ‘fomo’ in today’s lexicon. 

I’m enamoured with the transitional times between seasons, especially at either end of the year, and the importance I give to these moments makes it feel like they last longer than they do. The British weather can be an unforgiving beast, and during these times it is particularly changeable. 

I’m forever chasing atmospheric, interesting conditions, but being in the right place at the right time is a difficult calculation. It’s often a balancing act, and even when I find myself in ideal conditions, there’s a fear inside that things might well be better elsewhere. Once this thought enters my mind I find it very difficult to concentrate on the scene in front of me, focusing instead on imagined compositions elsewhere.

Even when I find myself in ideal conditions, there’s a fear inside that things might well be better elsewhere

Verity Milligan

This is compounded by social media, especially with the addition of Instagram stories where I can instantly see what conditions look like nearby. When reflecting after the event, this behaviour strikes me as absurd – a modern affliction that can consume creativity. 

We can instantly share our imagery and creativity online, and therefore quickly find ourselves exposed to other work that might make us stop and feel like we should have gone to another location, or used a different lens, as if the implementation of these small steps would have resulted in the same result. That mindset overlooks our individuality, and plays into the notion that we must always compete – as creatives, as individuals, and  as humans.

Recently I’ve been trying to find a way to dispel this anxiety, and found it no easy task. When I discover my mind wandering, I try to bring everything back to the here and now, practising basic mindfulness on the go to control those impulses that contrive to dull an objectively wonderful experience. 

I’ve attempted to eradicate the expectation to be ‘better’, content instead to just hone my attention down to the scene in front of me, and feeling grateful that I get to experience that moment, whatever the conditions. I’ll admit that this isn’t easy to learn, but I find that when I do manage to keep in the moment, it gives my creativity freedom to roam and experiment, and I end up making some of my favourite images.

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