A Photographer's Dilemma
March 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment
I participated in an interesting discussion recently that I thought I would share. It involved members of a photo group I am part of and almost every person either voiced the opinion or agreed with the idea that they were rarely satisfied with their work as a photographer. Mind you this is, in my opinion, an amazing group of artists--with a large range of skills, from amateur to professional, using equipment from cell phones to professional grade. Each one does excellent work, so it is a bit surprising that so many said they were dissatisfied with their work, regardless of their skill level. As an example of this, the group has been invited to submit work for a joint show--which will not be judged--and many of the members either cannot decide what to submit or think their work is not good enough. I wish I could say I don't understand this--because I have felt the same way many, many times. I just cannot explain it and that baffles me. Apparently it is as true for professionals as it is for amateurs.
There may be a number of factors at play. Some photographers compare their work to that of others, and feel that their work does not measure up. It is an example of the old saying--we are always our own worse critic. Perhaps it is that each photographer sees the errors or defects in his or her work, little things that most people ignore or don't pickup, and magnify their significance. Another factor, for those of us who offer our work for sale, is that our work does not sell. We put a lot of time and effort into attracting a buyer, only to come up empty handed. All of these factors can be very depressing and have a negative effect on an artist's work. Perhaps it is just part of being an artist--struggling to express a feeling or emotion, or to express or to convey something the person feels but cannot articulate successfully. Even a person who has a positive opinion of his or her work can feel defeated if no one "likes" their work on social media or they do not receive validation in some other way.
I have no solution to this dilemma. I am better at analyzing the problem than solving it. The only thing I can offer is what I follow myself: Believe in yourself. Take photographs because doing so gives you joy and you love the results. Keep your mind open to seeing things in a different way. Don't obsess over the equipment you don't have--remember, its not the camera it is the photographer. Always be open to learning a new--or old--technique or trick to get your photograph to say what you want it to say. If you are not trying to say something, just enjoy the act of capturing an image that catches your eye.
One final suggestion, perhaps the best one of all. Get involved with a group of photographers who you feel comfortable with. Almost every community has a camera club associated with a local museum or artist league. Go to meetings, make friends, go on shoots, keep your eyes and ears open. If you find the right group, you will enjoy it. One of the things I love about the group I mentioned above is that it is a group of people I enjoy. We are all very supportive of each other's work in person and on social media, and encourage each other to learn new things and ways of seeing. Photographers are often seen as lone wolves, people who go out on their own to capture their unique vision. There is nothing wrong with that. But for many of us, participation in a group, or even shooting with just a friend, brings companionship, encouragement, good suggestions, opportunities, and visions that make the experience worthwhile.
Keywords: amateur, art, artist, camera, camera club, cell phone, dilemma, equipment, feeling, lens, museum, never satisfied with his or her work, photographer, professional, professional grade, work
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