I was reading an article the other day from Bill Fortney on his blog called “Why Bother.” Bill is an amazing photographer and Nikon know-it-all so when he has something to say, it’s probably worth your time to listen. This was one of those times because the article that Bill wrote was basically on personal inspiration. Bill had been asked the question, why bother taking photos when there are already so many good photographers doing it better? The short answer was – to get better. Bill goes on to give 5 suggestions on how to keep improving your photography, which are all very good (hit the link in the first sentence and see for yourself).
As I was reading the article though, I kept thinking back to the person who asked the question, “Why bother?” It really got me wondering about what their general expectations were when they said that. I mean really, why do any of us take photographs? I know for me, it’s a creative outlet and something that I think I do fairly well. I also really enjoy the time I spend with a camera in my hand. This doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone. Some people are always looking to be better, which is not a bad thing, but when, I wonder, will they be good enough? Are they ever happy with the images that they create or do they look at the work of others and lament the fact that their work doesn’t measure up? What really is the end game for them? I really can’t speak to their frame of mind or what motivates them but I’m sure you probably know someone like that, or maybe that person is you. I liken them to someone who plays golf and always works on their game and is never really happy with their scores. Sometimes it seems that they are just making themselves miserable and I have to wonder if they are trying to recreate and relax, or earn their PGA card.
Photography is the same way in that you can drive yourself crazy trying to get “better” when you should really just be enjoying the experience of creating. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to learn new techniques or improve on your technical and artistic skills. I do however believe that you can’t get better if you aren’t enjoying the process. Here’s another little bit of food for thought – who says you have to be good? And what really is good? I have lots of images that I really like that and I know that if I ever showed anyone, they would probably tell me to take up pottery. The thing is, I probably didn’t shoot that picture for them, I shot it for myself. And if I like it, that’s all that really counts.
So if you are one of these people that never thinks your work is not good enough, do yourself a favor and lighten up. Pick up your camera and go shooting without any expectations. Just shoot for the fun of shooting and realize that sometimes it’s about the process and experience more than what comes out the other end. You might just find that you are enjoying photography and getting better isn’t such a big deal.
As an added little idea – Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk is coming up in October. This is the perfect opportunity to just go out and shoot and have a bit of fun. If you haven’t already, go find a photowalk in a location near you and register to join in. I think you’ll find that it is one heck of a good time. You can register for one of the hundreds of scheduled phtowalks at the official Worldwide Photowalk website. I still have a few spots open on my photowalk if you would like to join my group as we walk through Old Town Manassas. I can’t promise that you will improve your photo skills, but you will hopefully have a lot of fun.