Veteran photojournalist Richard Koci Hernandez deleted all 1,138 of his Instagram photos this weekend, saying photographs shouldn’t live forever. Is this the new path to creative renewal?
He’s won an Emmy award and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer prize. His work has been published everywhere, from the New York Times to National Geographic. He has over 235,000 eager followers on Instagram, and growing. Needless to say, Richard Koci Hernandez produces stunning work that resonates with a worldwide audience.
But just last week, he announced he was deleting each of his Instagram photos and starting fresh. It’s a bold move for an artist who garners thousands of likes per photo.
On his website he made the announcement:
“It’s time for me to clean-out my Instagram account and make way for new work. I’m hoping this will give me new motivation to make new images. Basically, I’d like to “clear-out the attic” and start with a clean slate. On Dec 6, I am going to permanently delete all the images posted to my http://instagram.com/koci account.”
In an interview with VentureBeat, Hernandez explains his motivations.
“I certainly don’t want this to come off as pretentious or too highbrow, but I’ve always felt that a photograph deserves a life span. Nothing should live forever. I’ve always loved the idea, as Apple refers to it, of a photo stream. What a great concept. And like a stream, things enter your line of sight, you enjoy them for a brief moment in time and eventually they flow past — in essence never to be seen again.
In reference to my own work, my ‘photo stream’ has recently seemed less like a stream and more like a dammed-up river. I know this all sounds very heady, but I’ve been thinking that the Internet doesn’t respect time in the way that I think it should. Especially in relation to photographs. I’ve always thought that the institution of an art gallery was a satisfying way to experience work. And recently my Instagram account has felt like an exhibition of work that is always on display, the doors are always open 24/7, and that dismayed me a bit.”
After a limited-edition print sale in the few days leading up to his deadline, Hernandez started deleting his Instagram photos one by one just after midnight in the early hours of December 6th.
214 weeks ago I posted my first image to Instagram. It took me 3.5 hours to delete all 1138 images. Here’s to starting over.
— koci hernandez (@koci) December 6, 2014
With his Instagram account wiped clean, Hernandez is free to start anew with any style or approach—perhaps less pressured by the expectations of his large audience.
Once his account was empty, I reached out to Hernandez to see how he felt about his new blank slate:
“It was a bit scary during the process. But after it was all done. It felt great.”
Hernandez plans to start uploading again at some point. Did the full deletion spark any new inspiration? “I’m playing with a few ideas, nothing solid. But it’s hard to teach and old dog new tricks and a zebra never loses his stripes,” says Hernandez. We can’t wait to see which direction he takes.
What do you think? Does starting over help you to reinvent yourself? Would you ever delete an entire portfolio? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.