Sitting by the side of the road


I wrote a post some time back now that talked about the feelings that sometimes overwhelm me – the feeling that I’ll never be able to achieve much as an artist, or that others are going to beat me to it. I never posted it because it was very bleak and I couldn’t seem to make it sound not whiny without stripping out much of the content. Some day I may come back to it, but whilst I’m in a pretty good place emotionally it’s staying in my drafts folder, unread.

But when I was coming to put this post together, and I was looking through my WordPress media library to see what images I hadn’t blogged about yet, I came across the screen capped quotes from a portfolio website that rejected me a couple of years ago, and a little bit of those I’m-not-a-photographer feelings came rushing back. Only a bit, and not for long – the sun is shining in my office window this morning and for a change the skies are blue, and this weekend I’m going to be doing something cool that I’m looking forward to (more on that later).

But for a minute, just for a minute, it all came screaming back. Other people’s voices:

“You’re not a photographer, you’re just a Nikon owner.

~ Random photographer

There’s no life in your pictures; they’re flat and boring.

~ Portfolio site rejection

You’ll never make more than a crust at photography anyway.

~ Well-meaning friend.

So I took a minute to look out of the window at the green of the trees and the early morning summer sun, and I thought thus:

Photography – or indeed making any art – is a journey. You start not knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going, and you only learn what you’re doing by doing it. The really scary part is that at any point on your journey you still don’t really know when you’re going, and you’ve only really learned what you’re doing enough to get you up to this point.

Here’s the headline then: If you feel you don’t know what you’re doing, the only way to get to the point where you do know what you’re doing is to pretend you know and fudge it as you go.

Otherwise known as “fake it ’til you make it.”

I’m not sure why I never really thought of it that way before. I’d like to have it hacked in stone over my front door (though I suspect my landlord might disagree about the worthiness of that).

It’s a long road. Better keep on walking.

Yorkshire Dales National Park