Inspiration and Fear

I wanted to post one of the most inspirational (and terrifying) articles I’ve read on photography recently. It’s inspirational because it cuts to the heart of what we all want to do as artists – follow our inner voice and create what that voice dictates, not what outside forces tell us we need to do.

Here’s the rub: If you create a book that you think will get you work based on your perception of what sells, or on the advice of anyone who steers you away from your core, you have a complex problem ahead. Yes, you may find some work that way, which is really tempting short term, while you tell yourself you’ll do the real stuff on the side or in the future. “Show the work you want to get” is a lasting truism and if you have chosen to show work other than the purist version of your creative vision then whatever jobs do come in will be based on that work.  There are many shooters who do this exact thing and end up with a middling level of success, stuck on a financial and creative plateau, slowly starting to run out of gas. After a few years they hate their their work and life in general. They are getting divorced or leaving the business or pursuing whatever diversion eases the pain. They are not living the dream. They are not challenging themselves creatively because they did not give themselves permission to be who they are as photographers in the first place. This is the road to being a burned out, bitter hack. Boring.

But by defining what you show based on what you truly are and what you want to do, you create a self-selection process: you are not for everyone. You are different. Be courageous enough to show that you see in a way no one else does.

It’s terrifying because it means letting go of the fear that holds us back; the fear that keeps us from letting go and thereby setting ourselves up to fail.

The sad reality is that if you follow all my advice you’ll probably fail. Hopefully this won’t include starving to death, homeless, under a bridge somewhere. Nevertheless, the odds of success as I’m defining it are astronomical.

An even starker reality is that if you don’t do this you’ll fail anyway.

As photographers, as artists, as human beings, how do we let go of that fear and follow our hearts? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Read the full article On Chaos, Fear Survival & Luck: Longevity is the Answer by Doug Menuez.

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