SHOW ME YOUR WORST
“You can’t be content with mastery; you have to push yourself to become a student again.”– Austin Kleon, “Show Your Work”
“You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn’t very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren’t good, the parts that aren’t yours. It’s called feedback, and it’s the most direct route to learning about your own vision. It’s also called doing your work. After all, someone has to do your work, and you’re the closest person around.”
LEARN TO FAIL
What’s more vulnerable that showing a room full of people what you consider to be your “worst” work as a photographer? Of course that means we had to do it, because I’m just that cruel. Opening ourselves up in this way makes it even more obvious that there is a need to fail in order to succeed. Sometimes these failures are just tricks that our mind plays on us, or a remnant ideology that’s stuck on repeat from our past. As artists we are hardest on ourselves, sometimes so harsh that we may quit altogether. Sharing our worst work was a way to see that it’s not as bad as we thought. It can be humorous. It can be the ultimate moment for growth. In fact, Tabitha Soren, the artist whose work we looked at this week, states that she’s “definitely attracted to mistakes and accidents”, “things that are imperfect are more attractive.”
THEN FAIL AGAIN.
While being mindful and having intention while photographing is a good way to start, there doesn’t exist a magic formula for getting it right every single time. (If there was, it would surely be commercialized by now. They certainly are trying.) Sometimes we’re dealing with an awkward client, sometimes you accidentally knock your tripod during a long exposure, your film didn’t roll properly, or you saved your file to be 100 pixels wide. These are all just minor roadblocks, and excuses that your mind uses to try to get you to quit. In the end, the worst thing you CAN do is give up because of it. Seeing our work as a “complete failure” block us from capturing the subtle nuances we can- and need- to learn from. Our art is here to teach us, if we just listen. It’s the only way masterpieces can be made. Instead of berating yourself because of your art, try asking, “but how can I make this better?”
THIS WEEK’S FEATURED ARTIST
This week we looked at the project titled “Surface Tension” by Tabitha Soren. I would like to graciously thank her for allowing us to share her work.
“There’s a connection between what troubles us and what distracts us. We use what distracts us to evade what troubles us.
The Surface Tension project uses our gaze against us. The images capture the harmful touch of police brutality; the human touch that causes lasting environmental damage, the touch that reduces stress, in reaction to technological overload. They can be painterly and ghostly, but also violent and ominous. What unites the photographs, despite the resistance to unity inherent in their subject matter, is touch.”
THIS WEEK’S SUBMISSIONS
Lastly, here is a list of resources elaborating what we’ve mentioned during this meeting. If you missed or did not understand any references from our last meeting, please contact me. I’ll gladly add them.
Bracketing & HDR Photography – PHLEARN’s post that goes over all of the nuances of bracketing, and the ways it may be used to create an HDR image.
BRENIZER METHOD – Also known as Bokeh Panorama. This video from B&H explains the Brenzier method from its’ creator: Ryan Brenzier.
DYNAMIC RANGE – A video explaining Dynamic Range in layman terms.
VOLUNTEER MATCH – A way of using photography as a means of giving back to the community, you can find events in need of photography volunteers for meaningful benefits.
RICHARD AVEDON – This website, the Richard Avedon Foundation, commemorating the iconic portrait photogarpher who would wait patiently for his subjects to reveal an intimate, vulnerable moment.