I imagine most musicians, when they’re not playing or creating for themselves, enjoy listening to the music of their peers. Creatively it’s a very healthy and positive thing to do that will often motivate and inspire when the viscosity of our own creative juices prevents them from flowing, in any direction. As an individual not affiliated to any groups, clubs or professional bodies I spend a lot of time looking through the on-line portfolios of photographers I have never heard of and who I am likely never going to meet. Doing this, and reading through photo-blogs, is how loners like me manage to keep in touch with what’s going on in the burgeoning universe of photography.
The problem is, as I speed-browse through umpteen galleries and read pages of philosophical musings, without any good reason I quickly create a mental pecking order, with me at the bottom with all of my anonymous peers looking scathingly down up on me. Why is it that we all too often assess someone else’s work as being superior to our own? I don’t know, and I don’t profess to have an answer. That said, my bet is it has something to do with self belief, self esteem and self confidence, the not-so-holy trinity of success! In my experience the decline into self denigration can be swift and crippling if you lack any one of these three selfs. No one has ever said that my photographs are rubbish (although a few have probably thought as much) so any uncertainty surrounding my ability to create a good photograph must come from my own misgivings! I am my own worst enemy, it’s self-inflicted. So the road to ‘recovery’, if that’s what it is, has nothing to do with producing better quality work, but everything to do with becoming less self-critical and increasing my self-efficacy, learning to like myself.
Perhaps one way of doing this is to take heed of the more objective opinions of others, and be more attentive to what they say, rather than favouring the unforgiving scrutiny of my own subjective judgement. I suppose I’ve always known that, not surprisingly, both the problem and the solution are down to me!