Are you waiting to be told it’s OK?
Your manager? Your boss? Perhaps an editor or publisher? Waiting for them to tell you your photos are OK? Then you can go ahead and be a photographer… yes? If you are waiting for someone else to tell you that your work is OK, you are giving away your own power to take action. You are giving yourself a cast iron reason not to go on.
When we take a photograph we have taken a single, but personal, initiative to do something. It may seem a small decision but it is your own. Passing the power of validation for that decision to someone else is one of the many ways photographers stop their own personal development. They feel that until someone “official” has told them that their work is OK, they cannot advance further. A job may be like that, but photography is not.
You produce a picture. You feel good enough about it to ask someone to give an opinion. If you never get an opinion back you assume your work was not good enough. Or, you do get one and they don’t like it. You are affected, perhaps devastated, both ways.
What if you never give that power to someone else? What if you never show your images to anyone else? Your photography will stall. You will never develop. Your ability to understand the good and bad things about your photography will never be challenged or change for the better.
Feedback from other people is extremely important. It helps you understand if you have communicated the message in your image so others can understand it. It helps you to understand what other people consider appealing, shocking, or whatever emotion you were conveying. Go ahead and get feedback. Use it to help you critically review your own work. Understand however, that is not validation. It is about self review and self development.
Being a photographer is a uniquely personal activity. Images comes from within you, no one else. It is a synthesis of your personal insight about your scene and the elements of the scene itself. It is a personal interpretation of a microcosm of time, a projection of yourself and a capture of the meaning in the scene. You do not need someone to validate that for you. What you have done in capturing that scene is the only validation you need.
Always feel you can move on. Don’t let anyone have the power over your ability to do your photography. Listen to other people. Consider their thoughts. Thank them, learn from them. Then, when you have heard enough – get on with making the next image on your mind.
You, and only you can make your photography worthwhile. If someone stands in your way go around them. Be true to yourself and you will take your photography forward.
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