A Roller Coaster of Indecision

A review of my posts to this oft-neglected blog would reveal a picture of a character who appears completely uncertain of their abilities and/or talents. This, to be frank, describes me perfectly. Lacking confidence… the world is the proverbial ‘glass half empty’… That’s just the way I roll. But I’m trying to do something about that. Taking charge…. trying to see the glass half full instead of the preferred route of half empty…. imagining better outcomes. It is very much an uphill battle.

But lately I have adopted something more of a can-do; take-charge; damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead mentality. And this is a major turn around mentally as it was only a few months back (during the holidays) that I had become very certain it was time to give up on this photography caper…. this photography “lark” as a certain friend is fond of saying.
The reasons were numerous. And almost exclusively shit.

Self-defeating. Self-deprecating. Woe is me. Just pure, 100% fucking bullshit. I tell you I was this close (thumb and fore-finger spread a centimeter apart) to packing up my camera equipment and shipping it off to another friend, who undoubtedly would have put it to far better use than I. However, as the holidays passed I had to make a day-trip to Chicago as part of bringing another portion of my life to a close. And it was during the 12-hour round-trip drive I had loads of time to think. And to ponder. And to re-think and re-ponder. And maybe even wonder a little bit. It was during this trip I decided to stop being such a giant ass and do something about this unbearable situation.

I would get motivated. I would get back into doing photography related things. I would stop looking for excuses as to why I wasn’t doing something and just fucking do it.

And so here I am…. in front of the computer…. adding an entry to my long-neglected photography-related blog. But that’s not all! No!! I’ve already done some other things as well and I’m gonna spill the beans here and now and WOW! you with my steely resolve and dedication. Well…. that is….. if you’re still bothering to read this shit.

First: I bought some books. Not just any ‘ol books either: photography books. For the moment I’ll pass on revealing the author and titles, but suffice it to say I spent no small amount of time researching. I was looking for someone who wasn’t just going to give me a dry dissertation on photography, but someone who would make it feel fun again. I’ll let you know how that goes once I get into them, which will be soon after…

Second: I’m in a photography class. My local camera store, Click! Camera, offers two five-week series of courses designed to help aspiring photographers (hobbyists, not pros) come to grips with this lark. The first course, which started last week, covers the more basic aspects of photography of which I already feel rather certain of. That said, I view this as an opportunity to hopefully expand upon what I already know (or think I know) and to change in wrong information/ideas I might have. And in the meantime…

Third: I caught up with my contacts on Flickr. I regularly follow my contacts uploads and I’m not one who gives them a quick glance in thumbnail sizes. No sir. I open up an extra tab and look at them in slideshow and when I come across one where I wish to leave a comment I return to the previous tab, find the image and leave a comment. I am, if nothing else, a dedicated contact. Except that I wasn’t very dedicated for some months and it took almost an entire week of spending many hours each day in front of the computer to catch up. But I’m glad I did. I enjoy my contact’s pictures and I very much like many of my contacts (the ones with whom I have established a more personal relationship). It felt really good to be caught up.

Fourth: I have revamped my iMac, which is the computer I use for this photography caper. This doesn’t sound like much of anything, but trust me: it’s major. Back when I was working on my old desktop PC and using CaptureOne 4 for editing, etc. I was simply saving my pictures in folders based upon the date I transfered them to the computer from my memory cards. The system was simple, but not particularly helpful at keeping track of my pictures in any meaningful manner. When I purchased the iMac I also purchased Adobe’s Lightroom (v.2), which offered all sorts of options in regards to cataloguing, keywording, etc. To be fair, so did CaptureOne 4, but I had never taken advantage of such options. So not only have I revamped my entire library of photos (not completely true: I haven’t imported the older images edited in CaptureOne to Lr, but I will once I have decided how I want to do this), but I’m going through the slow and laborious process of adding keywords to every single freaking picture I have taken since about May of 2009. No joy, but it should be well worth the effort in the long-term.

Fifth: I entered some pictures into a photography contest! Okay….. this isn’t exactly something new for me as I did enter a picture into a local photography competition last year (taking 2nd place in my category I might add!) and I have entered a handful of pictures into the “Picture of the Week” competition that occurs at my local grocer, but this latest incident is different. Bigger. International. My wife and I regularly donate to an organization called Defenders of Wildlife and this year they are running a photo competition whereby you can enter up to five pics in each of two categories: wildlife and wild lands. As I don’t take much in the way of wild lands photographs I elected to enter the wildlife category, which fortunately for me includes insects! Below are the images I forwarded to the competition:

The important thing about the competition (besides the grand prize, which is a trip to Yellowstone National Park!) is that I entered. That I believed in the power of these particular images. That not entering means there was zero chance I could win, but that entering meant I could win. Sure… the likelihood is quite remote, but that’s not the point. There is some chance…. regardless of how small.

And it is this sort of reaching for what could happen that I need to latch on to. And run with it.

[Update: I just completed the second major process in the way I handle my pictures in Adobe Lightroom by adding keywords to over 1,300 images. What a load off my mind!]

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13 thoughts on “A Roller Coaster of Indecision

  1. Well, this is all amazingly good news. And all I have to say is “Welcome back to the land of the living”.

    Er… not true. That’s not all I have to say (bet I had you breathing a sigh of relief for a moment there though… heh heh).

    Y’see, I can sort of get where you’re coming from. In fact, I suspect most folk when they start off on this photography kick go through something similar. Or do so if they’re the sort that takes an interest in photography “in itself” rather than just snapping holiday and family pics and suchlike.

    And I’m beginning to suspect these “crises of confidence” are the fire out of which is eventually drawn the hardened steel of the “real photographer”… providing they survive the heat!

    Or that could just be a load of old bollocks.

    Anyway, more to the point I’ve been through enough of these “I’m just not good enough” times to know exactly what its like, and how sapping of will and interest it can be.
    But eventually I’ve come to adopt the approach (or I think I have at least) of saying “Oh sod it, I just don’t care”. Which is to say that I now embrace the fact that I’ll probably never be good enough to make the grade (whatever that may mean), and so get on with delighting in my mediocrity.
    I’m not out to impress anyone, or please anyone, or win any prizes, or anything. I take pics cos its fun to do, its fun to see the results (yep, I can laugh at the failures… and relish the few successes… that I measure by what impact they have for me) and its fascinating to see how my own personal “vision” if you like is evolving.

    Maybe I have in mind some mythical “standard” by which I judge my own pics, and find them sadly lacking. And maybe this mythical standard is a mish-mash of my own expections and the qualities that others claim to be the hallmarks of “good” photography.
    But at all times, ultimately, it is I who determines what that standard should be for my pics.

    The trick I think is to not set the target too high initially.

    And I suspect the essence of all of that is something I’ve been saying all along. Which is, don’t take it too seriously. Its not the be all and end all of Life.

    I’m reminded of something really really corny, yet its been one of the sort of “touchstones” for me throughout most of my adult life…

    If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself

    One way I interpret that is to recognise that whatever I do, its not really significant how “good” or “bad” it is according to standards set by others, or even by myself. Nor what “technical merit” it does or doesn’t possesses. Nor how it measures up against what other folk do. The only thing that matters is that it should be authentically me… at whatever stage I may have reached.

    Sort of thing.

    Bored with this now. Gonna go and take some crappy piccies I think. Cos that’s what I’m really good at.

    😉

  2. Jeez Mike….. this isn’t a comment, but a blog posting. You should get one of those so you can write stuff like this.

    😉

    I fully understand what you are saying and in most ways completely concur. But I have something of a dark secret I have not yet discussed in this public forum or, for that matter, with anyone at all. Period.

    I want to be really good at something. Maybe even great. I’ve spent my life being a jack of many trades, but a master of none. It’s not enough in some ways.

    While it was never my genuine intention to turn this photography lark into anything more than me enjoying taking pictures, albeit with a superior camera than my trusty p&s Canon. The p&s took fine pics, but just didn’t pass muster under many more difficult situations. Better equipment would allow me to explore those previously closed avenues.

    But once I became bitten by the bug I felt the desire to do and be more. But the first year and one-half didn’t seem to show much in the way of progress. And unfortunately seeing great work by others via Flickr didn’t inspire me, but instead left me feeling small and insignificant in a world where creativity is king and where creativity is a rather elusive quantity for yours truly.

    In a way I fear that my matriculations will only provide me with the technical skills to take better pictures, but I will still be lacking the spark that makes a technically great picture a beautiful picture. They just can’t teach that sort of stuff.

    Regardless, I shall press forward and remind myself that most folks wouldn’t know a great picture if it came up and bit them on the arse so maybe my stuff will become legendary regardless!

    Take that world!!

  3. Well, you may not care for it too much but I can think of one specific area of photography where I’m fully convinced you’d be quite excellent.

    And nope… this is no wind-up or leg-pull!

  4. I applaud you for entering the contest, perhaps one of your shots will win. They are very good. I’ve never entered a contest…really don’t think they’d win anyway.

    Right now I don’t have any self confidence. It takes all I can muster to even pick up my camera. My heart is just not in it. If it weren’t for my iphone and the fun apps, I’d not take pictures. I have spent hours looking at photos in flickr and to be honest, most are a hell of a lot better than I could ever do. My photos are boring. There are only so many flower, bird and tree pictures folks can tolerate. ha ha

    • Oh Tam, Tam, I simply can’t agree. You’ve done some absolutely excellent photos that demonstrate a rare gift for this whole pic-taking nonsense.

      I know exactly what you mean about Flickr. So many times have I experienced precisely the same thing myself. There are some super photographers sharing their pics there. But the other side of the coin is… there are also many thousands of totally crap “photographers” on there as well.

      At the end of the day we simply can’t (nor should) measure ourselves by what other folk do or are. That’s not what its all about. What its about is doing your own thing.

      We all go through what you’ve been feeling. And I think the real test has nothing to do with how “good” or “bad”, how interesting or boring, our pics are but whether we persevere or throw in the towel. And believe me, your stuff is well worth persevering with.

      • I know that I think Tam is the most creative of our little group when it comes to “seeing” the picture. And I will say that Darren has a good eye for some of the effects he has applied to sim if his images.

        Which leaves you and I Mike. Oh well… Someone has to be the red head step children in the family 😉

        And I know that I’m trying to adopt Mike’s mentality about viewing our own work through the quality (or lack thereof) of others on Flickr. Focusing on improving my work is all I need to do. At this point in time the only person I need to make happy is myself, which is something I’ve had a real problem with since joining Flickr, which I might add was Mike’s idea!

        Ok Mike… I’ll bite: what would be my thing?

      • “You and I”. Precisely. That’s wot did it. Oh… and the description. I’m a wrinkly balding practically toothless old coot I’ll have you know. And proud of it!

        [hobbles off in disgust]

  5. We already knew you were proud of it, otherwise you wouldn’t let that Darren character snap your picture on occasion and post it public-wise.

    Besides, I know Tam and I wouldn’t have you any other way than old and crusty!

    😉

  6. Pingback: It Felt….. It Felt Good. Damn Good! « Forkboy’s Photographic Travails

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