This winter has been taking its toll on me. Holy crap, its been snowy, cold and miserable in New Hampshire. My brief stint in Puerto Rico was delicious and on my return I figured spring shooting was just around the corner. I had a photo gig last weekend to support a local non-profit to shoot their 5k road race. It was postponed due to wind, snow and ice… Oh my… Hopefully the race will go this coming weekend.
But the weather isn’t my rant. My rant is on the creative side and I think its obnoxiously obviously subtly. Lets see if I can get my thought across without digressing into too many different random thoughts.
Part 1: First on charity work. I hear so many photographers stating that giving away your photography is whats wrong with photography today. I had a period a while back when I gave up on charity photography. January 2014 to be precise. You can read that article by following this link. I have since decided that its okay “to be nice to the nice”.
I had also taken a stance of trying not to compete with those trying to make a living from photography, but in the end I have to revert to my 2015 – 5 new years resolutions. #1 is to “Stop giving a $#@! what other people think.” This is my hobby, leave me alone, I’m going to do what I want, the way I want, and no longer feel self conscious about it. I’m comfortable with those that don’t understand the value of my photography, I’m not giving it away to you, I’m giving it away to a charity/non-profit/model/friend or persons that I think will appreciate or enjoy it. I’m okay doing it this way. If you want them to pay, go sell your services directly to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll charge when its appropriate to charge.
#1 is to “Stop giving a $#@! what other people think.“
Part 2: In the creative space (photography in this case, but pick your art) there is this superiority complex that I think is rooted in lack of financial success. Or maybe its because most artists are not part of the “in” crowed (I’m included in both of these). Some days it feels like I’m on a big city street in a very poor neighborhood standing next to a flaming barrel warming my hands talking to the other people around me as we take turns swigging from a bottle in a paper bag. In our case we are all experts on whats wrong with the world. Naturally we know better and more importantly we know how to fix it and what everyone else is doing wrong, but yet we’re standing on the street corner.
“You know whats wrong with his work, it’s too commercial, his lighting is crap, he barely knows what he is doing, buy yet he has this huge following and people pay for it. He should really learn to do it the right way and learn what art is.”
Thinking like this on occasion isn’t the problem, but it becomes toxic over time and prevents you from making your own success. In our psychological human need to be part of the group, as photographers we start to believe these statements are true as you hang around others who think this way. The statements that you have to be doing “art” to be any good at photography and those that are not doing “art”, are no good at it in spite of their success is hogwash.
“That thinking on its own isn’t the problem, but it becomes toxic over time and prevents you from making your own success.”
This superiority way of thinking is the righteous route. To be “pure” to the art, because in the end being “pure” is the most important thing, right? Its not what makes you happy or what makes you profitable right?
The reality is – this is might be holding you back. You are being held back with the crowed that isn’t going in your direction. You need to make a conscious effort to know when this is happening to you, to let go and move on. You need to be true to yourself and what you want to do and not what those around you want you to do. Keep your mind clear, decided on your own what you want to do with photography and don’t let others pigeonhole you into their thinking. If you like landscapes, go for it, but do it in a way that gives you pleasure. If your goal is to be commercially successful, stop taking advice from those that are not commercially successful, seek out and surround yourself with people who help your cause.
Finally if you are like me and already have a career, but love photography, be true to yourself. You don’t have to be an artist to be a photographer. You don’t have to be commercially successful to be a photographer. You have to take pictures that you or your clients are happy with. That’s being a photographer and it’s that simple. Screw everyone else, unless of course your goal is for everyone else to like your photographs. : -)
“You don’t have to be an artist to be a photographer. You don’t have to be commercially successful to be a photographer.”
And with that I relinquish control to the universe, I’m happy with how I am being a photographer. I’m happy with how, what and when I charge for my photography and I realize that some people I shoot for get a much better deal then they even realize. I’m not saying my work is perfect, but I’m happy with how I’m improving over time. I am content with the journey I am on and I’m at rest with what other people might think of my work.
End of rant!