If nobody cared, would you still take pictures?
I’ve been posing this question to myself for a while now, this idea of “If nobody cared about my work, would I still create?”. Am I creating truly for myself, or is it a hybrid between the audience’s and my own enjoyment combined?
It stems back to this idea of value. More specifically self value. Whether it comes from respect, love, friendship, art etc.
Receiving feedback from those around us gives us not only a platform / base of our perceived value, but also a potential release to be appreciated.
That appreciation we may or may not receive, is it more or less valuable based on the self value we already have in our lives? Or is it unique specifically to that which we create?
By that I mean; If we had a loving partner, a wonderful career, lots of amazing friends and everything else we could hope for.
If our art failed continuously over and over again, would it bother us as deeply as if our art was the only form of appreciation we had / cared for?
Let’s assume you love creating photographs, artwork, capturing history, moments in time. Is it crucial for you to receive feedback on what you put out there to the world? Are you putting it out there to the world?
If not, why not?
Do you genuinely hand to heart not care for the opinions and feedback of others? Or are you lying to yourself and just too afraid to share something you care for?
If you do put it out there what does this feedback do for you? Do you desire it to be positive? Negative?
Does which side of the coin the feedback comes in push you further to work harder? Or does it deter you from wanting to try?
There are so many questions here based on this thought process of do other people matter when it comes to my art?
Even if you take the stance of “I create for myself and if I find success in it, great”. People still matter in that equation to the point of do you wish to make a business of your art or not?
Let’s say you don’t wish to make money from your art, does the opinion of people who view your work matter more or less?
Does it become more emotionally taxing for us to take feedback when we do it for ourselves?
Does it matter less what people think if you;re already being paid for work and the client is happy? Would you be satisfied in the work yourself if the client wasn’t happy?
Would the client being happy be enough feedback to cement your confidence?
What about if the rest of the world hated something, but you and your client loved it. Would you have the strength to stand by that love and keep telling yourself that the rest of the world’s opinion doesn’t matter?
Does the rest of the world’s opinion matter?
I was having a conversation with Ben Von Wong a good 6 months ago or so and I distinctly remember him saying that if there were no audience, he wouldn’t take pictures.
It really made me think. Am I the same?
After 1500+ miles of driving, £100’s in fuel, 20+ hours of sitting in a car. Weeks of editing and shooting my latest project “Tale of the Heroes” (Seen throughout this article). I can honestly sit down at a place and ask myself that question very seriously.
Who am I shooting for?I made no money from these shoots, cost myself money I didn’t and don’t have to spend. Took weeks out of my life I will never get back and even had pictures rejected by the designer of the dresses.
At first I thought I was shooting for the designer. I thought I was shooting this project to please her and somehow impress her with my work. As the project grew on and things got further down the line.
I realised very strongly that I was shooting for myself. My vision, my story that I wanted to tell was all that mattered to me.
If other people liked the images that was an awesome bonus.But I was creating to improve my art in my own opinion, I was shooting to create something for me.
I don’t regret a single second or a single penny I’ve spent creating this project. I’ve been madly in love with the process from day one and beyond thankful for the opportunity to work with such a talented designer and wonderful models.
And at the end of it all, would it bother me if they didn’t like the images? If the designer and the models hated the images, would it bother me? Would I feel like I failed?
That’s when I realised, no. I wouldn’t actually care. I would understand that the side product of that means I would likely not be able to work with those people in the future as it would be of no benefit to them working with me (if they didn’t like the results).
But would I feel like I’d done a bad job?
The exception being if someone had paid me for a job to create work for them, would it be the same? And even then I think my thought process would be: Business wise I have failed the client. I’ve done a bad job.
But art wise, if I liked the pictures, I still haven’t failed myself.
And that’s the balance isn’t it? Are we shooting for other people? Ourselves? Both? Who are we shooting for? What are we shooting? Why?
What do you guys think?
Why do you pick up a camera? Why do you push that shutter? Do you share your work online? Do you care what other people think about it?
If you don’t care what people think about it, why are you sharing it online?
Some great questions to ponder and actively get involved with. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.