Making Crappy Photos Is Better Than Making None
I’ve been going through this depressing period in my photography where I just don’t feel like shooting anything. I didn’t really know why, but it was really bothering me. Somehow I SHOULD always be ready to shoot stuff, no matter what…except I didn’t even want to LOOK at my camera.
I Think I Figured Out Why
I forgot that it’s OK to take lousy photos. I forgot that I HAVE to take lousy photos. I forgot that I don’t love photography because I can take good photos occasionally, but because I love shooting…..period. I forgot these things because I started buying into this idea that I have to raise my game because other people are expecting good things from me. They are expecting good things from me because I’ve recently been in some exhibitions, won some awards, and generally started getting some very gratifying feedback about my photos.
So I fell into “the trap”. I started feeling pressure to live up to the hype. I started thinking that I have to deliver on this idea that I’m an “Award-winning photographer”…..and all of a sudden I got depressed and didn’t feel like shooting, or creating anything. Yes, all of this was an illusion that I created….all of it was in my head. No one was saying; “C’mon Gary, you have to create create images more consistently or your dead.” I did it to myself…..but WHY?!!!
I did this number on myself because I forgot that its OK to create shitty photos. Its OK to make shitty photos because the goal shouldn’t be to create good photos…..it should be to ENJOY PHOTOGRAPHY! When I look back, the photos that seemed to get the most attention, that even won awards, were the photos that I had a blast creating! I sure wasn’t thinking about winning anything, and I wasn’t worrying about what other people might think….I WAS TOO BUSY HAVING FUN!!
If I’m gonna be honest, I’ve had as much fun making crappy photos as I do making good ones! That’s because in that moment when I’m shooting I have NO IDEA whether or not the photo is any good. I’m just shooting. Full disclosure……after a shoot, when I’m reviewing the crappy photos, I’m NOT happy. I don’t sit there going; “I am really digging this shitty photo. I feel GREAT!” No, in truth I get discouraged. In truth I get depressed. But after all of that nonsense I usually look at the crummy photo(s) and try to think of ways to improve them….to LEARN from them! And guess what…I usually DO! Further, sometimes I look at something I shot 6 months ago that at the time I thought sucked, and go; “Hmmmm….that’s pretty cool!!” Listen up folks….this I know….you can’t REALLY be objective about your work until you get some distance from it!
Strive With No Jive
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make great images, but I don’t think you can make great images a goal. If you get in touch with why YOU want to shoot, great images will be a by-product. I stopped shooting because I thought I had to make great images….and I couldn’t. I couldn’t just flip a switch and transform myself into “Award Winning Photographer”. I have to be true to myself and stay in touch with WHY I do this…and it isn’t because I want to be famous, win awards, or even make a living at it. I just really, really dig doing it….period. So with that thought firmly in the back of my mind, making lousy images is still better than making none…because NOT doing it virually guarantees I won’t learn anything and I won’t get better.
So I’m glad I make shitty photos. 🙂
I guess we all go thru this, and maybe it’s burnout and also exhaustion as this has been one heck of a long long hard winter. Nothing like last year’s warmer but grayer NorEaster winter. No one makes worse photos than myself.
At least you know what you are doing; I do not. So hard not to have an Apple here at home as I don’t have a clue how to use Windows with CS-6 P/Shop. I still cannot do composites because I forget so fast after doing 1 or 2 not to do them again for 4 months is just too long at this stage of my life. HANG in there. So glad you are winning awards and having positive ehibtions. That’s also a wonderful accomplishment. Your work stood out in January in the ARt Allicance window, it’s very original/innovative.
I love your work.