A few opportunities have recently arisen that have made me consider my pictures from a very different perspective. Most of the time, I have my eyes peeled for *interesting* photographic opportunities — seeing a unique color or texture. Noticing the light shining in an oh-so-perfect way. Trying out different points of view and focus points. In most of these situations, I feel grounded in myself as well as challenged by playful possibilities. What would happen if I focused here? It might be kind of interesting if I opened the shutter for longer. Although it can be challenging, it feels more like play than work.
Over the past week, however, I’ve adopted an outsider’s perspective of my pictures. I recognize that this can be a dangerous thing. After all, I study the adverse consequences of self-objectification, in which women adopt an outsider’s perspective of their bodies, focusing on their appearance more than their own thoughts, feelings, and goals.
Unfortunately, this is the perspective that I took of my pictures…instead of focusing on my authentic reaction — my thoughts and feelings — I instead adopted an outsider’s perspective and started wondering how my pictures would be viewed by others. What might other people think of these pictures? What kind of picture might I take that would have mass appeal? How do my pictures stack up to those of others?
This exercise in self-picturfication (yes, I made up that word…but it does have a nice ring to it) once again made me feel fearful about moving forward. To make matters worse, someone told me point-blank that they would not buy one of my pictures. Ouch. That hurt.
However, it served as a helpful reminder (we all know this, right?) that I need to let my own self shine through in my pictures (and in my life). If people don’t like the pictures? So what? For me, it might actually be riskier to try to cater to other people’s needs, rather than my own. As a recovering people pleaser, I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to anticipate and being anxious about what other people think of me. This has come at a great cost — often not being able to be authentic with others and sometimes myself. I don’t want to do this with my photography. After all, the thing that makes us love pictures is their uniqueness and authenticity. By worrying about what other people think, we often undermine our own creativity and sense of possibility.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to give up on potential opportunities to share my work with others. After all, that sense of connection is one of the most wonderful things about art and creativity. However, I’m going to rest in faith that by letting our light shine through, focusing on the process instead of the product, that all will be well.