I owe a lot to the internet. Although I've always been artistic, and always been interested in photography, it was really through the wonder of the internet that I have learned what I know. It has been a tremendous blessing to me because I've been able to use it to learn as I could, as I was able, as time allowed, being the mother of two young children.
The more I have learned... the more time I have spent in the online forum photography world... on the internet that has been the artistic blessing.....
I am afraid. I want to hide.
I see it frequently. They post the links to poke fun. Careful not to post it so that the link can be followed/traced. Someone who is just starting out. Who doesn't know any better. They post so they can have a great laugh at someone else's expense. Completely out of focus images. Or the focus on the completely wrong part. Horrific processing. Atrocious skin tones. Neon colors. Weird props. Unflattering angles. The images aren't great. Most of the time they are downright awful, truth be told,
to my eye
. (But who am I to call myself an expert?) But the comments some of the women make... they are just cruel. Pure cruelty. Sure, the object of the making fun will likely never know about it. But still, how cruel. It hurts my heart.
WHY? Why must it be so? Why must we women be so utterly cruel to one another? Why do we feel insulting others, even behind their backs, even online behind their backs, is okay?
There have even been a site or two pop up recently wholly devoted to showing the awfulness of some starting out photographers.
But in truth, I am not innocent either. I have linked an image or two to a trusted friend, wondering what on earth that person was thinking. I am guilty with them.
I am just as frustrated as the mockers. I am frustrated how I work to better myself as an artist. I post here on my blog, taking pains to write careful and interesting words along with beautiful imagery. I post on my Images facebook when I have something official to post. And my feedback is next to none, usually only my good friend photographers. While these amateur photographers being linked have 20, 30, 40 comments on their photos and albums on facebook about how awesome they are. I wish I didn't crave feedback like I do. But I do. I'm a "words of affirmation" gal. It fuels me and fills my emotional tank.
I totally relate to the mockers, who are frustrated with the cheaper than cheap prices of these photographers. Over saturating the market. Devaluing the art that they have worked and sacrificed for. Why go to photographer A and pay a significant investment when kinda-photographer B charges $50 for a session, disc, and 15 locations? Or, the people who no longer think they need custom photography because they or a family member "has a nice camera now." I totally see both sides of that coin. We all have to start somewhere, though, right? I'm stuck somewhere horribly torn in the middle.
But the more I've been seeing these "whoa check this awfulness out" posts... the more scared I've become.
What if someone links ME? What if someone makes fun of ME?
To say I would be crushed would be quite the understatement. I wish I could say I was tough. I wish I could say my skin is thick. I wish I could I say I wouldn't care. I can't. Those things couldn't be further from the truth. And those things are part of what makes me ME. I don't know that I want to be a hard edged, striving, don't give a damn girl. Perhaps I don't wish those things I just said, at all. I want to be a kind, nurturing, soft place to rest kind of girl.
I have struggled immensely with figuring out who I am as an artist. You see these posts all the time by people of all skill levels. You can read these words a billion times about being your own artist. It's just something you have to figure out for yourself. I have finally figured out I'm not portraity. I didn't realize I was trying to be, but I was. I was trying to "fit in" with the portraity artists... Constantly committing that ominous sin of comparison, eating away at the core of my creativity. I haven't found a nice niche of lifestyle friends to 'hang out with'. I guess I haven't looked in the right places. But in figuring out that I'm lifestyle -- that I tell STORIES with my artistry and gifts -- I have become scared.
Seeing some images referred to as glorified snapshots, or snapshotty, shook me. Shook me hard. They weren't even mine. But it sent a shock wave of fear rattling down to my core. Do others laugh at ME behind my back? Do other indulge me to my face, but send little private messages laughing about my ideas? My style? My idea of art? What makes my heart sing? Is what I'm doing really just high quality snap shots?
I wish I could be wholly comfortable in who I am. I am trying hard to be. I am seeking God's peace about my skills, abilities and talents that He's given me. I'm seeking His guidance in what direction to take all of this. I am trying to rest in what He has given me.
You may not think that what I do is "art". You may think that I'm just a MWAC (mom with a camera). I suppose I am. You may not get what I'm after. But that is ME. I'm not shoving it in your face. So please don't seek me out to make fun of me.
When I look back over the years of my work, I see something in the images I took before I knew anything "official". The internet has helped me improve "technically" in a dramatic way. I know my camera, upside down and backwards. It is the tool of my artistry and I am its master. But my unintentional cornering of myself, trying to be like them, rather than trying to be me, removed the creativity from my work. I miss that when I look at my old images. I see things I could have done better technically with them, but I miss the pure, raw, emotion I put into those.
I hate that I've wasted time, in some ways, by trying to be something I'm not. But I'm glad I've realized it and am just going to embrace the fact that I tell stories with my images. My images work together in series. I am going to try to revert back to the creativity mind I had before I knew how to shoot manual. That's my new goal. I am going to shoot the images that make my heart stutter.
And I'm going to sit with my fingers in my mouth, chewing off my cuticles, wondering if someone is choosing me as the object of their laughs for the day. I hate that. I hate that the vehicle through which I can share my creations is also the vehicle in which my spirit can be crushed.
I truly wish we could all be encouraging to one another, and just mind our own business. Alas.