Oh look, Gerry has is soapbox out! So, this could be fun…
Today’s Lesson comes courtesy of the Beach boys with “Hang on to your ego” and Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust who is “making love with his ego”. This entire post should be framed in one of those annoying motivational Poster jobbies.
Ego & humility. These are two words that contradict each other. And in the generally societies most of us grew up in, being “egotistical” is frowned upon. One needs to be humble in all things. And this “humble above all things” is killing a shipload of talent!
Allow me to rewind – we all started out somewhere. None of us were born great. The guys who are considered the photographic giants – and yes, I include myself here (though hardly a giant, but it applies to me as well) – all of us sucked! We were not born with magazine covers and ad campaigns and fine art prints. We grafted, we struggled. We sucked, sucked some more, and still sucked, until one day we sucked a little less, and a few years later, we still suck but we get off a few good shots every now and then.
But we *own* those good shots. I’m only going to speak for myself here. I have no idea how many photos I’ve taken in my life. Way too many and not nearly enough. In my pro-career that is now half-a-dozen years old, I’ve taken maybe a dozen photos I really, really love! Shots that I can look at and say “I love what I did here. Fyouseekay I’m good!” I’m proud of these shots. You will not find false humility here. You will find pride. I take ownership of those shots. I did them. I made this. This is why I’m good!
And if that sounds arrogant, it is because it is. But let me tell you about the opposite. I look at the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of shots that I’ve taken that suck. If you want to see humble Gerry, let me tell you about an entire shoot I did with Lizanne at the botanical gardens that was such a disaster I could not even pick up my camera for weeks… That feeling you get when you have to drive down the same road you were in a bad accident in – that’s how it felt. I can tell you about a commercial shoot where I mucked up so badly, I never even emailed the client to tell them I stuffed up the shoot, I was so embarrassed. I just hoped the client will go away if I ignored them long enough, and they did. I used to suck. I still suck.
But ye gods, I love what I do, and take pride in what I do.
And so should you.
Recently, and very recently, two of my photo-buddies who did not think themselves very good, got to experience that stomach-dropping feeling when someone wants to pay them money for a print of what they do. Neither of these ladies believed in themselves… and yet…
We are prisoners of our own minds and mindsets. We are caught up in the “I’m not good enough” trap – and maybe you’re not, but so what? None of us were! But own your photography. Own your stuff ups, own your suckiness, own your “what the hell am I doing?” moments. And then break free, and, in the words of Clive Barker, you trust your own madness, and the next thing you know you are getting asked by some random dude on Facebook if he can buy a print.
There is a cynical quote that says “do not be so humble, you are not that great”. I say, try for just a while, a week or so, try not to be humble. Try not to be modest. Be proud. Be arrogant. Be full of confidence, like a 5-year old with a crayon drawing and a huge grin and go “look what I did!”
Own your photography, own your creativity, own that which you are, and above all, never, ever underestimate yourself. You never know what you could do once you stop with the useless thoughts and beliefs holding you back, and you own your own creative vision.
Go forth, be arrogant, be proud.