The Difficulty in Seeing Critically
I used to think my little sister was crazy. She’d sit in front of the television for hours watching this crazy show about crazy girls doing crazy things. I saw no value in the show. Just caddy girls being ridiculous. And then, somehow, I got sucked in. Drawn towards the show for reasons I couldn’t explain. The biggest reason was because during the day not a whole lot would be on TV, but Oxygen would play whole seasons of it. America’s Next Top Model. And I was hooked. The photos, the challenges. It was great.
I was watching one of my favorite cycles the other day (another one of those Oxygen marathons that I love) and I really got to thinking.
Cycle Six had a girl on there named Jade. I wish there was some way to accurately describe her without you actually seeing how she acted. So I found this (not-so-good quality) video with the “Best of Jade” moments. Hopefully it will give you a little idea about how crazy she was. (You don’t even have to watch the full six minutes to understand. Just watch the first minute or two, then skip ahead to 3:30.)
Yea. Told you.
I was interviewing a good photographer friend a few weeks ago and one of the questions I asked him was about the hardest thing he dealt with starting out in photography. His response? “Developing a critical eye for your own work. So many times, you take a picture and show it to people and because you have some minor amount of ability, people naturally compliment your work and tell you you should do it professionally. It can very easily go to your head.”
I can totally relate. I felt like that in the beginning. But as I began studying the work of photographers I looked up to, I realized that I have a long way to go. And a lot to learn. And just a couple days ago I began watching videos from Jasmine Star’s CreativeLive workshop from August (better late than never!), and it’s amazing how much she knows. And how much I don’t.
But what’s awesome is that although she knows a whole lot, she’s not all big and bad about it. She’s humble, kind, caring, and just genuinely wants to help people. Why is it that the people who’ve really got it going on usually act like they don’t, and those that have no clue what’s going on act like they’re the best? I guess it’s a self-esteem thing, because they don’t want to admit their flaws.
Looking at yourself critically is ridiculously scary, but knowing what your weaknesses are can help you get stronger. My current weakness? Lack of confidence. And soft photos. How do I push through those and get better?
I have no idea how to get more confidence. I suppose once I start feeling satisfied with my work (as in being consistent and developing my own style) I’ll be more confident. But can’t satisfaction lead to stagnancy? I’m not sure. And as for soft photos? I think I have a focus/recompose problem. Meaning, I focus and recompose the shot, but either my camera or my body moves just enough that the sharpness is lost. The solution to this? Practice. That’s all I can do. I’m hoping to get out and shoot this weekend because it’s supposed to be really nice weather. And really, the lack of shooting in the winter months has done nothing but increase my skepticism in myself.
So I just have to jump right back in. I’m going to go for it, critique my work, and find how I can get better. I know where I want to be. And sitting around waiting for it to happen isn’t going to do me any good.