We as artists, visual architects, creatives take pride in our work. But sometimes in this reality, we live in, we lose grasp of the work we have. People will tell you what is right and what is wrong or what to do and what not to do. It feels like you’re taking photographs to please people and slowly you realized you in the middle of the cornfields, lost and discouraged. Away from the path that leads to your goal. This happens all around us, it can happen to you as it may happen to me. And I think it almost did and I was lucky I was quick enough to steer away before things can go wrong. You’d be fine.
This article is about my realization how easy for us to get derailed from our goals. But as soon as you realize it early and you are loyal to yourself. This is how you should own your photographs.
Find your voice
If you believe in your photos, stand by it. People will critic you but it doesn’t mean they’re right and you have to follow them. I fact, you don't even have to defend it. It's your photograph and let it speak for itself.
You can choose to be a purist or a person who photographs anything. Do whatever pleases you. Never follow people telling you what you should do and what you should not if it’s against your belief. It’s not them you should please.
This is a problem I see why some artist fails to succeed. Because they choose to please others instead of themselves. In the end, they feel like working rather than doing what they want. The society is tough, sometimes people think that artists work for them. Take musicians for example. The first albums/ songs they produce were all getting praises from their fans. Years later as the band matures, they decide to change their musical style. Fans start to react, some tend to get angry and calls the band a sellout. Well here’s a news, they don’t work for you.
Find your critics
I don’t mean that you should look for critics that you know will only say good things about your work. Believe me, it’ll derail you rather bring you to the path you want to take. Imagine a landscape photographer criticizing your street photographs, or a street photographer who specializes in juxtaposition criticizing you who specialize in the human condition. You’ll never meet on the same page and it will either pull you away from what you want to achieve or slow you down.
What meant is look for honest critics that you share the same beliefs and ideology with, or from those whose style/ thinking you want to tap into and incorporate into what you are doing.
In the end, getting your work criticized will do you good, just keep an open mind. Take what you can use, discard what you can’t.
Craft your own
Finally, the only way to own your photograph is to craft it. Develop your own style. See with your own eyes and click because your instinct told you to do so. Do not take a photo because you think this is will be loved by everyone but because you genuinely want to take that photo. Do not take a photo because you think Alex Webb or Henri Cartier-Bresson would take that photo. Take it because that’s the image you want to take. Find your weakness as well as your strengths and develop from there. Own your photographs through this. Make it yours. A property. Make it personal.
Alright? See you on the streets with a camera on your hand!