Something of a follow-on from yesterday’s post, this one.
As I wrote, I find myself torn between competing impulses when doing my photography. On the one hand, I want appreciation. Lovely strokes and praise. On the other hand, I want to follow my own particular interests and preoccupations with a complete indifference to how they are perceived by others.
Stupid, really. Why should be expending mental effort trying to reconcile these emotions? Moreover, why should I be seeking appreciation when I so often have little or no sympathy with the types of photographs that get appreciated?
Doubly stupid. Let’s get real. My photography is a hobby, an avocation. I do it because I enjoy finding things to photograph and because I enjoy seeing the results of my efforts. I like both process – as in actually taking photographs (film or digital), developing, scanning, Photoshopping – and result – images either printed, stored on my computer or displayed on a website such as this one.
I do not make money from my work except by accident. I do not promote either my art or my abilities with a camera beyond posting on a website, sharing at photo critiques, and occasionally entering art shows.
It is significant that all my conflicted feelings about photography derive from these forms of public interaction. I fall prey to competitive thoughts, estimate my worth based on rankings, and enter into the world of allowing others to judge me, feeling lifted by praise and brought down by neglect.
Human, right? Yes, it is. But it is not what I want from photography.
So what is the solution? Well, one way would be to withdraw completely from public display and keep my work to myself. I often tempted to follow this route. But, I do enjoy showing my pictures. I enjoy showing. Right there is the answer, if only I can adhere to it. Stick with the showing and let everything else – praise, criticism, indifference roll away. If I can do that, I will be free of the emotional negativity I so often generate for myself (and I can even turn praise into a negative emotion by recharacterising it), and I can come back to what I like best about photography.
It’s going to take a bit of an effort to do this. Nonetheless, writing this in itself has helped. I feel my inhibitions lift somewhat.