Why bother?

I’ve been getting hate mails from a disgruntled blogger recently.  I usually ignore them and file them in the evidence folder, but the latest one caught my attention.  He said, (paraphrased) “you’ll never be as good of  a photographer as I am, so you should just delete your blog.”  This resonated with a conversation I had a few days ago that was already stewing in my brain, so here are the results.

He has a point.  I’ll never be able to capture landscapes like Ansel Adams.  I won’t have the visual eye that Henri Cartier-Bresson had.  I’m pretty darn certain that none of my photographs will ever sell for the prices that a Weston or Steichen will.  So if I can’t measure up to the great photographers or even come close, why bother?  Why keep trying?

I can come up with an endless list of reasons why I should quit.  I’m not that good.  I’m still learning.  I’m having trouble finding things to shoot that are worth shooting.  It’s snowing (believe it or not, that’s a darn good reason!)  It’s hot.   I’m stuck in a rut of only shooting what I like.  Everyone else has done this shot, why should I?  And on and on.

It’s depressing.  But only because I’m looking at the issue from one viewpoint.

Turn the argument around and try this – why shouldn’t I photograph?  Give me one compelling reason why I can’t keep trying.  I can’t think of one.  And I honestly don’t think that the great photographers sprang out of nowhere with perfect techniques either – they too, had to learn.  I’ve seen some pretty bad photographs from some of those guys I mentioned; some early work, and some experimental work that would leave you giggling.  No one is an instant expert – everyone has to practice and perfect their techniques. 

So for now, I’m not a professional.  I don’t claim to be one.  I’m learning, and I hope to continue learning for the rest of my life – stagnant work is boooorrring.  I’ll cheerfully accept constructive criticism and feedback, because that’s how you learn.  I’ll keep shooting even if my work is mediocre at best, because not shooting doesn’t fix that problem. 

Given that I mentioned in another post that I’m really blogging for my benefit, why on earth should I delete my blog because one idiot says I should?  Not a chance.  And really, the great photographers need people like me for contrast, because otherwise how could you tell that they were great?  Even mediocrity has a purpose.

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15 thoughts on “Why bother?

  1. My 2 cents.. if you’re shooting because it’s a passion, you’re shooting for yourself, not for your “audience” so screw ’em.. it’s not about them it’s about you. And when you start shooting to please a certain audience you start losing your passion, and the reason you ever started to shoot in the first place.. That’s how it is for me anyway, or how I try to keep it, I need to shoot, as it’s one of the most simple ways I can be creative and not break the money bank, or time bank. Photography is sanity. (wow that should be my header or something)

    Thanks for your color comments on my last images. It’s weird because your image seem to show up just fine on my monitor, colors and exposure.. So why do mine appear blown out on yours?

    • Poor chap sounds very insecure. I have worked professionally as a photographer and have nothing but admiration for your website – particularly your willingness to share your expertise with others. There is always someone waiting to shoot at you when you put your head above the parapit – ignore them.

      Best wishes to you from the UK.

  2. Great post. You are VERY good at what you do. And you know what? If we stop learning, we never progress. Photography is not something that anyone ever fully “gets,” and it’s a shame that someone has to be so negative. Who in the world WANTS to perfect their hobby? Once you know that 2 + 2 = 4 you never go back to revisit that equation! Keep up the stunning work; I always look forward to it.

    • Thanks! I work in something of an artistic void, so feedback is very good to have (family doesn’t count lol.) And I’m with you on the learning bit – the more I learn the more I realize how little I actually know – paraphrased quote there, can’t remember who first said it.

  3. don’t give up, sometimes I also get depressed. Quote “No matter how good you are at something, there’s always about a million people better than you.”
    Homer Simpson,

    but what can you do? If you love to do something then just keep going, and maybe you’ll eventually be as good as the million people better than you.

    anyway I think your posts are great and this photography is splendid,

  4. Have you read The War of Art? If not, I’d highly recommend it plus it’s a very quick read. It’ll make you want to never give up on your photography or any other thing you want to do in life.

  5. Absolutely love your stuff – I’ve stumbled on your blog via an old university friend of mine, Mark Nelson. I’ve spent a really inspiring half hour looking through your pictures and words and am blown away. As a complete amateur I’m still finding my feet and am nowhere near finding my “niche”; I just know that I love being out taking photographs. My post processing skills are virtually non existent – I’m dabbling in photoshop but without any great prowess. My digital camera is currently at the repair shop, having been dropped by moi during a recent outing. I was bereft – but reading your blog has made me determined to pick up my 35mm and give film a go again. Thank you for your inspiring words.

    • Thanks for reading my babble 🙂 Film is a great way to make you stop and think about the picture (not to mention it produces amazing pics!)

      And I’ll tell you a secret – I don’t do much post processing. Nothing fancy – just adjusting the raw digital file for exposure and white balance. Photoshop isn’t a requirement to be a decent photographer, thank goodness!

      edit: er, Mark Nelson, as in this guy? http://www.markinelsonphoto.com/ o.0
      edit2: nevermind, quick google turned him up at http://zardoz67.wordpress.com

  6. I too know I am not a great photographer. And I know I’m not a great golfer. But when I hit that perfect approach shot and it goes in for a birdie, which may happen only once a season, I know that’s why I want to tee it up again tomorrow. It’s the same with photography. I get that one amazing shot out of a hundred so-so shots and for that moment I think “I’m pretty good at this”. It’s a good feeling that wouldn’t happen if I was afraid to learn.

  7. cannot believe it!! who could send a comment like that?

    anyway, I totaly agree with you.

    I´m not a great photographer either but I do it because I cannot help it!! I see a whole universe to photograph, funny things, beautiful things, unsual things, and I want to share what I saw with my friends and whoever wants to see them because that is who I´m.

    I´ve been lucky enough to see wonderful places and when I´m there, one of the things that crosses my mind is “I have to share this, it´s so beautiful” and even if what I capture is less than a half of what I actually see, well, it just makes me want to learn more.

    Keep shooting!!!

    • It’s not like we’re hurting anyone by photographing – and we have every reason to keep it up. I like that sharing your work with your friends is a great motivator – and I’m sure they enjoy your generosity 🙂

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