The fear, the challenge, the growth...part 1 of 3

"Morning Mist in the Farm Valley."  A scene passed by thousands of people every day.

"Morning Mist in the Farm Valley."  A scene passed by thousands of people every day.

My photography (much more so than my painting) is a stimulus for, and a reflection of, my personal growth. It forces me to step away from the physically or emotionally comfortable and challenge myself to see, be differently - a never ending process. This blog is "thinking out loud" via keyboard. It is one way I process, analyze and synthesize information about how I feel, work, think, create. (Yes, it's all about me! Insert belly laugh here.)

Thus far, my photographic journey has involved seeing the everyday around me in a different light than most might notice. I call it "found photography". I shoot the people/situations/things I find in the light, or scenes that move me emotionally. Or, I shoot scenes that juxtapose ideals and daily life. (See "The Ones We Love") In moments of inspiration, I can refer to found photography as my gratitude button; I am grateful to find beauty in the everyday.

I have an exhibition hanging in a local establishment.  All of the photos are "found" things, places, or light that caught my eye.  The photos include a line of hay rolls sitting in a field, sunrise over a local river, morning mist in a farm valley. In every instance, viewers asked me "where was this photo taken?" They offered exotic locales where I might have taken that particular shot.  All were surprised to learn the photos are from places they see or pass nearly every day.

Ahh, the fear?  Of course, the work is not "good enough", my skills are "not advanced enough."  The night prior to hanging the photos, I was terrified, so terrified that my gut clenched. I  experienced bouts reminiscent of Catholic School Girl anxiety - what I had done wrong? I had seen all the photos in a "small" version - what if they didn't translate well to 11 x 1 4 inches?  What if there is a plastic water bottle I did not see in the water next to the heron? Is the work too "simple"? Will the quality of my personhood be judged by my photography? (In my best James Franco voice, "Whaat!???")

All these fears were no more than wasted emotional energy.  Once I offer artwork to the world, the meaning and value no longer belong to me alone.  Every viewer will interpret the photo or painting according to his or her own reveries. I can not control the responses of the viewers. To accept those responses as relevant would be to negate my own learning, creativity, thinking, appreciation of beauty, joy and gratitude. My only regret is that I did not take the time to think through those fears as I experienced them. I could have saved so much energy!  And at the cellular level that is me, I am (temporarily) angry I allowed myself to wallow in a projected sense of "not being accepted."

Aha! There it is...that is the crux of the issue isn't it? Not being accepted. Well, that fear was deeply buried. Oh geeze, I thought I had successfully kicked "acceptance" to the curb 1000 years ago.

If there are flaws in my technique, I can identify and correct them. If there is a water bottle I didn't see, the photograph morphs from the regal stature of a solitary heron to a statement about the  wasteful interactions of humans with nature. My artworks are about fulfilling my creative potential, spiraling into the fullness of the talents I have been given or developed.

Bottom Line:  I found the core of my fears. The only fear relevant to me is wasted talents. I will keep pushing forward in my works, pushing myself out of a comfort rut into new and energizing creative frontiers. No one other than myself can evaluate or judge that growth.

Best wishes in your own creative frontiers!  

Part 2:  The Challenge