I have to admit, some days I have no clue what I am doing. Sometimes I look at my work and have absolutely no idea where I fit in. There is a little bit of fashion, a dash of glamour, some hints of portraiture and a few other odds and ends mixed in there. And I don’t think I am the only photographer who thinks this way. I know many who struggle to figure out their own little niche, where their work will sell and who their clients will be.
I remember watching an interview with Dave Gahan, the lead singer of Depeche Mode. He went through a huge depression in the middle of his career, he was actually suicidal. There was one thing he talked about which really hit home with me. For years he didn’t think he was good enough. He would watch other performers and see how charismatic they were on stage, and they sang differently and he thought he had to try to emulate them to continue his success in the music industry. He had no idea how many people loved him for who he was and that is why he had success. But even with success he wanted to be somebody else. This is a very common insecurity of many artists in all different genres.
We put work out there and we do want people to like it. Anyone who puts work out there and says the don’t care if people like it is lying. I don’t give two shits about what people think of me, but that has also come with time because I know there are people out there who like my work. There are those who hate it too, but that just comes with the territory.
Now in this age of social media we all want “likes”, gotta get those likes to prove we are good. Well, I hate to be the one to say this but, getting likes doesn’t mean you’re good. It just means you have some form of internet popularity. Unless those likes directly result in you pushing your product, they really don’t mean anything. I have had a lot of people tell me they like my work, but the ones who actually open their wallet and buy it from me, well that means a lot!
Back to my point, sorry drifted away for a bit. When you put yourself (or your work) out there it is going to be criticized, like it or not. Some people will hate it out of jealousy, some will just hate it. Some will like it because they know your work and just kind of like what you do. Others will actually love it. Focus on them. These are the people who may not click the like button every single time, but when they do, they actually like the work. If you can figure out what it is they like and repeat it, then you know you’re on to something. But on this path, don’t try to be someone else, you really need to stay true to who you are. This is hard sometimes, but you have to stay true to yourself. Above and beyond all other things you do, this is the heart of your work. This is where the life of your art begins and ends. If someone is going to hate you for your work, then let them hate the real you and tough shit. Because the ones who love what you do will appreciate you and your work so much more if you put your soul into it. Think about it this way, would you rather see your favorite band live or a cover band playing your favorite band’s music live? Both are filled with talented musicians, but if you’re given the option you will probably want the real thing. Be true, be real, be bold.
Here is one from the archives… Jordan