Creative: Not Good Enough

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Maybe it’s me. I’m flawed, and that I know for certain. The vast majority of work I’ve done is average at best. There are several reasons why. Some are my fault and others are from outside sources, but ultimately, I was the one on the shutter, so I’ve got no one to blame but myself.

In today’s era, we routinely hype work that isn’t good.

In fact, hyping sub-par work has become an art form and is also its own industry. And an industry that gets more play and more attention than the industry built around the actual work. But when we hype sub-par work we damage the entire photography ecosystem. It lessens the impact of work that actually is good and drives down the level of attention that good photography deserves.

So, you have to know what you have, how good it actually is, and if and when you realize you don’t have it you must either return to the field and admit you haven’t succeeded; yet. Failure is not something to be embarrassed about. Failure, in its own strange way, is a victory in itself.

Comments 12

  1. These are very personal pictures; Photographs don’t always have to follows laws, laws made by whom anyway? I actually think the picture of the boy in the doorway is very evocative, and I would hazard a guess says quite a lot, personally to you about your time there. A picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps, but a thousand and one words is worth more than a picture. Different personal experiences call for different ways of documenting. You can articulate with a pen or a camera.
    We don’t always need our work to be critiqued, if we are personally content with what we see, then why seek approval from others? It’s only to secure ourselves in the knowledge we have others approval….. sometimes we should just allow ourselves to keep work to ourselves. In this time of social media it appears necessary to buff our egos; the dreaded “likes’ of instagram, does it really nourish the soul? It is far more beneficial to feel a deeper sense of contentment with what you have done, without the acknowledgement of others….. IG recognition is pretty shallow.

    1. “We don’t always need our work to be critiqued, if we are personally content with what we see, then why seek approval from others?”

      I agree 100%! Unless you’re photographing for a “client”, why does work have to be good or bad? If I’m truly photographing for myself, if I like it, it’s good. And if I don’t like it, it can be an opportunity to learn.

      People are just too serious about this stuff. It’s supposed to be fun.

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    3. Leon,
      I’ve worked for clients as a photographer for 35 years, I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve had any feedback, good or bad.

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  2. This is gold.. not your photos they’re rubbish! Just kidding but I get that they’re not what you wanted. This article and thoughts are gold. Hyping average work as become a problem, great work now has so few places to get proper attention. Recently, I shared something stating it was an exercie that I didn’t really like the result and it was far off where I wanted to be but shared it to show part of the process. All I got as comments were some “This is great.” which it really was not. Encouraging improvement as become taboo, people share things to get praise, people comment to avoid hurting. Saying something is great when it’s not isn’t encouragement for growth, it’s saying don’t get better because I already cannot do the things you do and you can’t be better than I am because then I’ll feel like a failure. Communication on this social media realm as become a mess. Anyways I’m stealing a few lines from your post and linking to this from my blog so that my two or three readers can enjoy good insights for once 🙂

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      I’ve seen young photographers melt down after mild critiques. It’s just not what the online is good at delivering. But I didn’t grow up in the everyone wins a trophy world. I grew up playing against the team who had a kid five years older than regulation who would push our faces in the mud.

  3. Enough : in or to a degree or quantity that satisfies or that is sufficient or necessary for satisfaction. The good/bad part is unnecessary if they are enough. Enough is a nice place to be.

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  4. You’re way too hard on yourself… but that’s personal, and that “unsatisfaction” can lead one in new directions. I believe a photo lives alone… just like a great song on an otherwise average album. I come from a long line of musicians… talk about sub-par… modern photography still has some sanity to it. I personally dig your shots and your words… that’s what keeps me coming back. In the end, greatness is NEVER satisfied… keep looking for that perfect shot, and I’ll keep looking for that perfect chord.

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      I appreciate that but for me it’s not hard on myself. It’s just the dialogue in the brain. I know what’s good, for me. So, getting back there is a long climb.

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