A gentle reminder - Why making images isn't really about me at all.
"The way you capture someone in their element is really what I love. You capture them. And that's all I could ever want."
Finding this message in my Facebook inbox yesterday morning hit me on multiple levels. On the one hand, this is the biggest compliment anyone could give me regarding my work. On another level, it's incredibly humbling to be reminded that my work is ultimately not about me at all.
I don't think the messenger intended to give me a creative wake up call, but she surely did.
Lately, I have been struggling with anxiety regarding my ability to create work that is [worthwhile, original, creative, cutting edge, on- point, eye catching] enough to help me be successful in my career. Preparing for every shoot seemed to be turning into a stomach churning uncertainty.
Is this cutting-edge? Is this concept original? Is my style too dark? Will people understand my message? - just a sample of the many questions that race through my mind before each shoot.
Disclaimer: I am not saying prepping for a shoot isn't important - it’s vital.
But I spend so much time worried whether or not my work will be good enough and then find myself frustrated as I feel my worry creeping into my time behind the camera. It seems the more I worry about something the more stale my eye feels. I sit baffled as to why my creativity well seems dry as a desert somedays. Then I worry that I won’t ever have ideas that will meet an industry standards.
For quite sometime, I have been trying to unlock the secret sauce to creativity. I’ve been trying to nail down what is standing in my way when I try to come up with new ideas and art concepts for projects.
I got my answer while reading Emily’s message yesterday morning.
Me. I am what is standing in the way.
If my goal is to make photographs that show people they are beautiful creatures made with a purpose, then why should I be spending countless bundles of energy worrying whether or not my work will be good enough? If I am really measuring success by how my subject feels about him or herself after I photograph him or her, why am I worrying about how many people like my work?
Making work with the purpose to help others means putting myself and my own pride to the side.
The truth is I will never be able to achieve a level of artistry that appeases everyone’s tastes. I will never take the aesthetically perfect photograph. I will never be the most creative artist.
But that’s ok.
Rather than trying to perfect my craft for my own pride and self-satisfaction, I want to make images that focus on helping my subjects realize they are beautiful. I want my subjects to feel more at home in their own skin after working with me, and I know I need to work on being confident in my own. That is the kind of confidence that frees on from the chains of perfectionism.
I want to be a person who uses art as a restoration for the people around me. I can’t do that unless I get out of my own way.
Emily’s message reminded me that, contrary to my own pride’s opinion, being the best photographer will never be enough to satisfy and drive me to keep making pictures.
Loving people and telling their stories is what does and will continue to make me get up every day to make photographs.
Thank you friends for your graciousness and kindness,
Also, here are a few of images from some recent personal work. Thank you to all my sweet friends who allow me to grow more each time they step in front my camera.