Aren’t most of us pretty timid with our art? We are intimidated to stray outside the safe boundaries of convention. We follow the trends or a favorite artist. At the root of it, we are too timid to be ourselves or go as far as our vision wants to take us.
I hope this does not apply to you. It would be great if I am just preaching to myself. Probably not, though.
Playing it safe
Safe doesn’t get us in trouble. Safe doesn’t get us criticized for being weird or different. If our art is safe we will get nice comments on social media.
At some point in our lives we will confront a dilemma, though. If our vision takes us in a direction that is no longer “conventional” we have to decide which path to follow. Do we play it safe and stick to what everybody likes or do we go where our vision is taking us?
Going our own way is not safe. Just like starting a business is not safe. Or making investments is not safe. But if done well, these things usually lead to greater freedom and satisfaction than remaining in our safe boxes.
If you keep denying your artistic values you will eventually either give up your art or lose your creativity. That seems a very high price to pay for safety.
Who are you trying to please?
Maybe I talk about this too much, but I keep making the point that the main audience I need to be concerned about is me. I would love for people to like my work and give me praise and buy my prints for their walls. But if they don’t and I still like my work, I’m successful. It is hard to remember sometimes, but I know it is true.
Let me remind you that I am talking about what we call “fine art”. If you are a portrait or wedding or commercial photographer you do the work your clients want. They hired you to do that for them. You try to put your own creative spin on it, but when it comes down to it, the client calls the shots.
In this fine art world I, as the artist, am called on to be creative, to boldly give my own interpretation. To make it my vision. If I am holding back because I’m timid then I am probably not pleasing myself or my clients.
Don’t worry about making other people happy. If you intend to photograph as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway. (Paraphrased from Stephen King)
Are you willing to be an outcast if necessary to be pleased with your art?
Timid is safe. Timid doesn’t discover new, creative things. We should, instead, take chances. Be bold. Go for it.
I give you this advice, but I have recently discovered that I am still too timid. The epiphany startled me when I realized I am not fully following my vision where it wants to lead me. After giving the advice, I found out I was still timid. I apologize.
I won’t go into detail, because my vision is mine and wouldn’t do you much good, but I realized I am still too conventional in my subject choices and post processing. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I have resolved to loosen up and take more risks.
The realization that I have been stopping short of where I want to take my images was a blow to me, because I thought I was being pretty bold. It was a wake up call, but it had the feel of a discovery that was true and freeing. Long years of studying conventions of composition and post processing were deeply ingrained. I have to break through and let my imagination take me to new heights.
How will I know if I have gone too far? It will be when I decide it’s too far. Then I may back off some.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. – TS Elliott
You don’t know you’ve gone far enough until you’ve gone too far. – John Paul Caponigro
I will try to keep this in mind as I start to experiment more. I know that there will be a lot of mistakes and failed experiments. But that is the only way to learn when you’re making a path where no one else has been.
The magic is in you. I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad photography. Remember that the best photographers understand that YOU is more important than NEW. The magic is in you. – Jay Maisel
I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it. Garrison Keillor
It’s time for me to seriously question reality. It is fearful but exciting.
This will be an interesting journey. A growth period. A time of stress but joy. I’ve been there before and I trust my creativity and vision to take me through this to come to a new place. I hope you will come with me through the adventure.
Let me know where you are in your journey and what you think!