improving

Putting Yourself Out There - Showing Your Work

For me this was one of my biggest struggles when I was first starting out as a photographer and believe me it was an ongoing inner battle, I was nervous!  What will other people think of my work? Will they say it sucks? Will they like it?

I was THAT guy who would only show my work to friends and family and of course the feedback was always good, which in hindsight was more of a hindrance than help when I look back on it now.  Showing your work to your family and friends is one thing, they are not going to tell you your work sucks are they? They are going to say the things they think you want to hear which doesn’t benefit you in any way, shape or form.

It’s very tough to put yourself out there, seemingly on display and sharing your work with a bunch of strangers. You feel vulnerable, naked and alone!  After all, this is something you created from scratch you put your heart and soul into this. Everybody is a critic, everyone has something to say. It takes a lot of courage. You are worried about being judged, what will everyone say about you’re work, I get it! You are going to get deflated and knocked down but you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and grab your camera and make more photographs.

You have to reach way down within and find the courage to get your work seen.  Get as many eyes on it as possible!  That way you find out what you need to work on and know which areas you need to improve.  There will always be areas you can improve on even after years of being a photographer and just as in regular life you are NEVER EVER finished learning.

One of my past photography teachers reached out to me recently and we were talking and he said: “…as artists, we thrive on encouragement. It's like the tide, when it's in it feels good and when it’s out, it can be damn lonely!” His words rang in my head for days afterwards. This really struck a chord in me and if you are reading this right now, you know who you are. Thank you for all your words of encouragement as of late, they mean a lot to me.

So people don’t give up!  Keep consistently putting your work out there. Yes, it is definitely not an easy thing to do but it IS necessary!

 

Photo courtesy of Linda Langerak

Looking Back - Improving Your Skill Set

You know, just the other day I was looking back at some of my older work from about 15 years ago. In those days I was shooting with film and I began to laugh to myself as I perused some of my images. I was looking at a particular set of images that I shot back in 1999 on a European backpacking trip I was on for 2 ½ months.

I constantly hear from professional photographers who have been in the industry for a long time advising the new up and comers to the industry who want to break into the business that you should only EVER put your absolute “best” work forward and online. I would have to completely agree with that statement. Once your work goes into cyberspace it is forever out there for the world to see, so you had better make sure its excellent work and you are very proud of it. You wouldn’t want it coming back and biting you in the ass later on in your career. Now this brings me to my next point which is, what if that particular body of work IS your best at that particular moment in time?

In my opinion, as a photographer and an artist we should always be improving and evolving our work. This is probably one of the most important things to me personally otherwise aren’t we just wasting our time? Being pleased with yourself first as an artist is incredibly important, then you can worry about whether or not others enjoy your work. Of course we all seek the accolades of our peers, we want our work to be enjoyed by others.

For me the work I was putting out at that particular time when I looked at it 15 years ago, it was my best work in my eyes. When I look back at it now, I think WOW those images don’t represent what I saw in them back then. I would have to say my skill level and eye have definitely improved since then. This is what we all hope for as artists, constantly improving and honing our skill sets.

In that department, I have to say I am pleased with my progression as a photographer and as long as I can continue to improve and evolve as a photographer I can look through my catalog of work, put a smile on my face and be happy and proud of what I see!