No matter how self-aware you are, it’s unpleasant to know that someone dislikes you or your work. But if you want to be authentic, recognizable, and get the most out of your creativity, allowing yourself to be disliked is one of the best things you can do.
In this inspirational video, Sean Tucker discusses this topic. Based on his personal experience and knowledge in both photography and psychology, he encourages you to be yourself – even if some people don’t like it.
Copying other photographers’ ideas
When you’re just starting out, it’s okay, even desirable, to copy others. Even steal ideas, as long as you use them for learning and give credit to the original artists. I mean, when you know nothing about photography (or any other art, for that matter), it’s okay to try and recreate someone else’s work and get your own conclusions and knowledge out of it. But then, you get to the next stage – you create your own work and have your own ideas, but are they really yours?
It can be difficult to escape the influence of other artists, social media trends, and people’s requests while we try to form our own style. Even as experienced photographers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of following a trend we saw all over Instagram. Alternatively, our photos look a bit too much like the work of our photographic role models.
My opinion is that playing it safe isn’t something most of us do consciously, at least not as artists. And even when we become aware that we do it, we may often choose to keep producing work that will please most people – because it’s perfectly normal to want to be liked. But is there something we lose by doing it? I would say yes.
See, I find photography, embroidery, writing, and other arts and crafts essential for expressing myself; for being myself. I believe this is true for you, too, since you love photography, right? And what happens when your style and direction don’t coincide with what most people like? Well, you can create art that pleases them and makes you drift away from your authentic self. Or you can create what you enjoy and get some side-eyes and unpleasant comments. And believe it or not, this is exactly what we want!
Allow yourself to be disliked
Sean gives the perfect example of when he allowed himself to follow his heart and idea, which got him some disapproval. When he published his book, The Meaning in the Making, some people weren’t pleased with the type of book he chose to publish. Some expected a photo book, considering that he’s a photographer. Yet the others expected more of a technical, educational, manual-style book. In fact, even his publisher had originally approached with this request, but Sean pitched his own idea, which eventually got published. While some readers disliked it and even gave it 1-star ratings, most of them loved it and found it helpful and eye-opening both as artists and as human beings. I’m one of them, by the way, and you can find my review of Sean’s book here.
I had a similar experience when I started embroidering some inappropriate, dark, and cynical jokes instead of flowers and butterflies. I got some pretty mean comments, as well as plenty of side-eyes. But on the other hand, people who have the same sense of humor loved it and I got tons of positive feedback (and orders) from them.
The bottom line is, being your true, authentic self will not please everyone. But to be honest, even if you play it safe and follow trends and requests, there will still be some nasty comments and disapproval. So, create your own path as an artist and allow yourself to be disliked. Because those who like you will love what you do. But above all – you’ll love both the result and the process itself, and that’s what counts!
[The Courage to be Disliked (a thought for makers) | Sean Tucker]