Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Insecurity and letting go of your work

Well, the issue of Lenswork where some of my work is being featured in, is finally in the open. At least the pdf of it is now downloadable. The printed issue is probably going to be available starting next week or so with the extended issue, where even more of my work will be featured in (including an audio interview) following a couple of weeks later.

If you are interested in picking up this issue or downloading the pdf or get a subscription to Lenswork, follow this link.

You know, last night was funny. A fellow photographer Ivan Makarov (who's work I absolutely love) posted a congratulatory message on his Google+ wall. Immediately two things happened.
First I got flooded by felicitations from people and friends that follow my work. Something that made me very humble. Secondly, I became very, VERY nervous! I felt like a 12 year old going on a field trip for the first time. I had butterflies, the shakes even.

Sounds pretty dumb right?

Since approving the short text for the printed and pdf version of Lenswork I haven't heard anything back nor did I see any pre-production pdf's. I was very anxious to see the selection of photographs that they decided upon, before this thing got to print.

And that's when it struck me.

LET IT GO OLI, I HAD TO LET IT GO!

I suffer from something I call I.A.S.

Insecure
Artist
Syndrome

Something many artist suffer from I think. I mean, I hope.

Bad thoughts immediately filled my mind:
  • Was the selection going to be good enough, I worried. 
  • How did the images technically reproduce? 
  • What if this is the only time I'll ever be featured in Lenswork, will this be 'my legacy'? 
  • Will this open some new doors and even jumpstart my career
  • What if the feature sucked?
  • What if I make crap
  • What if I just suck but nobody has the guts to tell me? 
Insecurity can rapidly push logic aside. It can quickly make you doubt absolutely EVERYTHING. And make your mind spin out of control. It can even convince you to just quit everything and sell your gear and pick up knitting. In the worst case scenario, it can make you believe you are just NOT good enough to play this game.


But the thing is. Being insecure can be a huge stimulus as well.
Think about this for a second.

Being insecure about your work is ok. It's something that comes with the territory. I would even say, it's a must. I believe good artists are insecure. That insecurity keeps them scared, it keeps them on their toes and sharpens their senses and sometimes their imagination too. Insecurity can push you towards new heights and when used positively, it can help push you over that 'plateau' or 'dip' you have been struggling with for the longest time. It can even increase your creativity again.

My photography is often a reflection of my state of mind of that particular day, week or month. And showing work is often a very personal experience. It's like letting people look into your soul. But in the end, it's my art, my work. I don't have to explain it, tailor it or apologize for it. And I'm certainly not refining it to anybodies tastes or whatever. My art is honest. It is me. And that is one of the reasons why insecurity sometimes overwhelms me.

I personally think, if you aren't scared about showing your work in public, I believe you're not doing it right.

Here's a few tips if you are insecure about showing your work:
  • Try publishing your work online first. It's fairly easy to do (hence Flickr and other photo sharing sites are so popular) and the internet allows you to do that fairly anonymously. It can help you, little by little, build your confidence up. 
  • If you have no problems doing that, and feel confident your work is unique enough, try and put your work in a small, local group show. You will see, it's far less easy to cope with that. Now you are dealing with full on stress until your work is 'on' the wall.  
  • If this has become second nature to you, why don't you try and get your work into a magazine. Now the masses will be able to see (and sometimes judge) what you are doing. WHat your art is all about. It's something else, let me tell you. For me personally, letting go of everything and trusting third parties in doing their job correctly was a nerve-racking experience! But in the end it was a very valuable and necessary lesson for me to learn. 

To conclude this post, and with the Presidential elections in the United States today, I'd like to leave you with this very famous quote:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”– Robert F. Kennedy.

In the end, the Lenswork feature is awesome and it makes me extremely proud.