Buzz Lightyear and Photography

So, what does Buzz Lightyear have to do with photography you ask? Good question! In of himself he doesn’t – after all what does a toy astronaut have in common with photography? The answer though, comes through Pixar’s “prequel” to Toy Story – Lightyear.

Before I keep going – there are spoiler alerts, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I would recommend waiting to read this until you have!

Now, moving on….

In the movie, Buzz is a Space Ranger and causes an accident that leaves his ship and the whole crew stranded on a planet in the middle of nowhere. Wanting to complete the mission and get everyone home, they try to repair the crystal drive to get them into hyperspace. But while testing if it works or not, Buzz stays the same age – and the planet moves forward in time. Explained by something science-y which I don’t quite understand. Anyway years pass, and Buzz finally manages to get the formula spot on, he returns to the planet and in the years he is gone, something dramatic happens and the planet is invaded by robots. Long story short – time travel has made it so that there are two Buzz’s – the main character of our story and the future Buzz – determined to complete the mission and to MATTER.

And this is where my brain exploded watching this: Future Buzz does everything he possibly can to make his mark, to Matter and to be important – to amount to something. Which is something I have seen in myself as a photographer and as a human – and something I have seen/heard from other photographers. The need to matter, to be important, to achieve and to do something – the search for external validation.

Believe me. She mattered.


And the downward spiral of despair when that validation doesn’t come through.

I’ve done it myself – lost my mojo – considered myself to be a failure.

“My work is terrible!”

“I will never make work like that!”

“What am I doing this for, if nobody sees it?”

Sound familiar?

While some sort of validation is good – even essential – achieving a qualification, for example – helps you to see how much you have grown as an artist – and a kind word here and there is wonderful to boost the spirits!

But, as artists we tend to be insanely attached to our work – naturally since we put our heart and souls into every image we take. But what if we took a moment to see what it is that really matters – do we NEED to be big and bold and brave? Or, like Buzz realizes, can we still matter in our little circle – in the here and now?

What if we looked at our work and remembered who we create it for? Once we take a moment to remember that – maybe we will realize that what we do does truly matter – and we matter. And we can make a difference too.