Since the beginning, I’ve always had a very strong sense of morality and integrity in my photography.
I don’t really recall where I got it from specifically. Maybe I got it from my previous career, or perhaps it’s just the type of person I am, but all I know is that I have a very strong idea of what I think is right and just, and I can feel prideful in my approach towards my work.
I feel that this integrity, perhaps now more than ever, is super important when it comes to producing work that matters.
And perhaps now more than ever as well, I feel like there are a thousand distractions occurring everywhere in the social media space; new trends popping up every day, people copying each other left, right, and centre; the latest trends are such an easy thing to latch on to because they don’t require any imagination or the real work of creativity. They’re… shallow and hollow distractions, in my opinion.
And look, don’t get me wrong, trends can be fun! The originals of those works can be cool and unique, and awesome.
But I feel like it has no soul.
This idea is something that I’m very careful about on my main Instagram account, @pat_kay.
My main account is part of my business. And it’s a tricky balancing act, the merging art and commerce together.
On the one side, I’ve got to make sure I’m making a living and that my business is doing well.
And on the other, I’ve got to keep asking myself with each post: “is this work that you’d be proud of 10 years from now?”, “would you be proud to show your kids this piece in the future?”, “does this work positively affect the world and add to it, rather than just becoming more noise?”.
It’s these kinds of questions that serve as my north star and guide me and the images I make.
It’s these kinds of questions that ensure that I keep at least 50% of my soul and my integrity intact when I’m producing these pieces of work—the blend of art and commerce.
But over time, with all these constant distractions in the social media space, sometimes I need room to breathe, to collect my thoughts and ensure that the path I’m on is one that I can be proud of. Even if it’s at the expense of some of the social clout that I’m very sure I’m missing out on.
And so, I created a second account. It’s called @heypatkay.
I created this account quite a few years ago when I first had these concerns about what my art meant to me and where I wanted to take it in the future.
These questions have always been at the forefront of my concern when it comes to making art.
In the early days, this second account was a great way for me to deal with that and experiment; with different shooting styles, with different categories of photography, with different editing aesthetics.
At one point, I even transitioned to black and white, focusing on story, composition, contrast, and shadow.
And as of early last year, it transitioned into the style that it is right now, a record of the little moments of my life. These in-between moments give the more significant moments context and fabric and texture and richness. These little moments are all edited with the same visual aesthetic and a focus on the nostalgia I have when I look back on these images and remember these moments and emotions.
This account keeps me in line. It keeps my ego in check. It forces me to shoot for the right reasons, and with a purity of purpose.
I friggin love this account.
In so many ways, it feels more like “me” than the version of myself in my main account, which is highly curated and has a business focus.
On @heypatkay, I don’t care about the external. I have no obligations. I don’t care about growth or engagement, or socialising with people. I don’t have to be wary that I know the image I’m going to post won’t “perform well”.
I post it because I like it, whether that’s because I find the image interesting or because it reminds me of a person, a time, a place, or an emotion.
Whether now or in the past, this account has always been about my own purest form of self-expression when it comes to my photography.
It’s incredibly liberating.
It is because of this account, giving me a way to publicly express soul with 100% authenticity, that allows me to focus on the things that matter—on creating the things that matter, on my integrity, on my identity and where I want to take my work in the future.
I wanted to share this idea because I think now, more than ever, it’s easy to get caught up in the social media hamster wheel, to the point where people forfeit their integrity and pride to jump on the next trend. The term “content creator” now just feels like a hollow, shallow excuse of someone who makes half-assed things searching for the next follower.
There’s no more artfulness to it.
More than ever, I think it’s important that we focus on creating work that matters. On work that has a positive influence on the world. On work that reflects our own unique identities, not just work that adds to the noise.
And so, if you’re in the same situation as I am, one where you’re bound by the idea of blending art and commerce, I highly encourage you to create an avenue that allows you to express your true authentic self.
The world needs more real, authentic art. And only you can make it.