Don’t compare yourself to other photographers. Don’t benchmark your success against theirs. You’re trying to do your own thing, so their definition of having made it will never be the same as yours. When you look too long at the work of others, you’ll appreciate your own vision and style less and less. And then you won’t even realize that you’ve actually already made it, you just can’t see it because you’re too busy looking over on the other side of the fence.
These are words that I try to remind myself of every now and then. When the doubts and self-loathing kick in, these lines keep me afloat on a sea of uncertainty. But I’ve been struggling to find my bearing lately, so I have Susan, my wife and guardian angel, to thank for helping me find these words again as we talked over coffee yesterday.
She helped me remember why I chose this path in the first place and how I intend to see the furthest that it will take me.
My weekends might never be booked as I am not a sought-after wedding and events photographer. I don’t expect fashion magazines to hire me to shoot their latest collections as I know very little about what is haute and what is not. I may never be called artsy and hip by the young crowd as I am at least two generations removed from today’s millennials.
I shoot pictures to make photographs. From the atmospheric street scene, to the travel photo less taken, and to the quiet and thoughtful portraits of people, with or sans clothing — this is where I find my home. The goal is to make art for people to admire and hopefully purchase for themselves (or commission me for). And it is in that regard that my wife reminds me of my success, having sold dozens of prints since I first started making them.
Am I an art photographer?
I wouldn’t call myself that as I have no formal training in the arts, as my background is in the sciences (chemistry). And even though I believe that creativity is not the sole province of artists, I wouldn’t want a label that might only make me sound pretentious.
I am a photographer. And I’m a fairly successful one at that.