Believe in yourself…Be selective…and when you do, field test your work!
So, you are a photo enthusiast, an amateur, a newly claimed professional…and you really want to know if your work is as good as you think it is! But, you’re afraid to ask anyone? Remember this…
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
That being said, let’s cover one issue that will aid you on your path to becoming a successful photographer.
Do you like it?
If your answer is “Yes”!
Then it’s good!
As a professional, who is paid for their work, you may be a bit more directed by your client, but the following remains true, if you want to keep your passion alive!
“Only photograph what you love.”- Tim Walker
The number one killer of any hobbyist or career professional is “self-doubt or lack of confidence”. It is human nature to continually seek the approval of those around us…friends, family, co-workers and others! If you like, or even love your work, this recognition and acceptance is still a major hurdle to overcome.
Let’s assume you’ve convinced yourself that your work is “awesome”. You have to believe in yourself! There is a quick and easy test to see if those around you will like it as much as you do.
I like to call this the “bigger is better” test. I have done it a number of times, and truthfully, I occasionally still do it today (but not as successfully as I had in the past. I think they may have caught on to the fact that “I am a photographer”)! But, that tells you, that as a seasoned professional, even I am not necessarily 100% convinced that all of my images are up to the calibre that I believe they should be, or want them to be.
The test I am going to describe to you is actually quite simple! I call it my acid test”! So many enthusiasts or photographers hit a rough patch, or even quit, because they forget one of the most famous quotes of all time…
“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams
Newbies, amateurs, and pros alike often come back from their latest shoots with literally hundreds (if not thousands) of photos, and we truly want them all to be great! If only that were true!
You need to sit down with your images. Review them slowly, carefully, and closely! Pick that one shot, that one image…that you are truly enamoured by! The one that catches you every time you look at this most recent crop of photos. Now that you have chosen your absolute favourite…don’t change it – PRINT IT! After all…
“… we are there with our cameras to record reality. Once we start modifying that which exists, we are robbing photography of its most valuable attribute.” – Philip Jones Griffiths
Don’t go small with this project. Don’t print a 4” x 6” or 5” x 7”! Make it a large print! You could use an 11” x 14” if you are going to mat and frame it. Better yet, a 16” x 20”, matted and framed in a nice 20” x 24” frame. Something that really draws attention! Once you have your photo framed, display it in a place of prominence in your home, your office or somewhere that all of those people whose opinions you value so highly, will have the opportunity to see it. Ensure that it has no watermarks, signatures or markings to identify the image as one you have taken, and then…let nature take it’s course!
“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt
All of those people who see the image are going to provide you with their feedback. And there will be times, whether you like it or not, their feedback will be raw and unedited. The secret is take both the positive and the negative and run with it. You will find that the majority of your viewers are going to provide you with positive comments. And, they will help to instil the confidence you require to move forward as a photographer (at whatever level you desire)!
“Work very hard, until you don’t have to introduce yourself anymore.” – Roberto Vazquez.
You may scoff in disbelief, because this test truly is simple! But, the truth is, that , it will provide you with “constructive” feedback (along with some criticism). It will help you to develop your skills as a photographer. Take the challenge! Give it a try!
And, be sure to let me know, how your test results come in!
Good luck and good shooting!
I always welcome any feedback. Feel fee to send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org