Confidence can be described as a belief in one’s ability to succeed.
The majority of the time these people are nothing more than delusional. The sort of people that often confuse constructive criticism with destructive criticism. Delve a little deeper and observe their photographic works of art and you quickly establish a really poor and unwarranted self-belief in their own talents, these are the sort of people that when challenged on their destructive feedback tend to snipe back the equally mundane quotes of self importance “I am only trying to help you, but it seems you only want people to kiss your arse, give you compliments and not help you improve, why post if you can’t handle feedback, bla bla bla”.
I’m usually yawning when it gets to this point as I know that the post will become tedious and exhausting if I allow these negative dream stealers to have any power over me. The only thing I ever learn from the the person offering feedback is that they are complete and utter arseholes. The arseholes never learn that destructive feedback never works, they, therefore, drift from one forum to the other pissing off not only themselves but everyone in the forum. It is amazing when two arseholes meet though, arsehole one posts what they believe to be a masterpiece for arsehole two to begin the process of mundane all over again, then a post becomes a swarm of activity attracting every arsehole to offer their opinion, on why offering their opinion is better than the opinion offered by the previous arsehole . You see tedious and exhausting.
How to get to the stage of being confident in your photography, or even produce confident photographs. Easy, I’m experienced enough to know that I am not the worlds greatest photographer, and will never be the world’s greatest photographer, I am under no illusions, I am pretty certain that I have helped contribute to some of the worlds most awful photographs. There isn’t a day that goes past that I haven’t hit the delete button on a photo that only 12 months previously I was touting for the National Geographic photo of the century.
I don’t actually believe the worlds greatest photographer even exists, there are really millions of outstanding talented photographers out there, however some of the people I drooled over previously are no longer in my search history, no longer on the tip of my tongue, my taste changes, my enthusiasm and admiration when I find a different talent, of course, there are masters that will always hold my attention but by the time I finish this blog I guarantee you I’ve found a photo or photographer that has inspired me.
Everything is subjective. It’s very rare I offer constructive criticism, especially if it was never asked for, that is important, never offer CC if it was never asked for, it’s a hideous habit to acquire, revert to paragraphs one & two. I have seen the arseholes I speak of offer CC to some of the worlds most celebrated photographers, cringing, to say the least, like, jaw-dropping cringing. If really pushed for CC off someone who wants it from me, I tend to look at the photo and imagine I was there, what would I do differently?, is there anything I could have done to improve it?, if not, then I bow out gracefully with my self respect in tact, because the way I see it, there will always be that arsehole who disagrees with my CC and then we are spending hours debating when that time could be better spend reading blogs, looking at other photos, getting inspired.
Confidence is all about belief
If I take/make a photograph and something is really bothering me, leading to the urge to see how it could have been that bit better, I go to respected sites where I know the photographers are professional and respectful and ask for CC.
But, do you know how and why I’m confident in my photography and in my photos?, (putting the obvious aside like winning awards in competitions, being hired as a photographer etc). It’s because I take photos for me, I don’t take photos for groups, for other people, for admiration from others (unless I’m getting paid :)). If you are taking photos for others admiration or approval then you will never be fully confident in what you are doing, or be confident with the final outcome, because, as much as this might come as a shock to you, no one really cares about your photos (unless they are seeking your work out) they want you to care about their photos.
But they don’t care about yours, and the ones who pay special attention to your photos tend to be the arseholes I have spoke about in this blog, the ones that need some sort of validation in their own competence. Of course, praise is wonderful, but just like photography and all other art forms completely subjective, for every one person that loves one of my photos, there are 10 who don’t and 10000 arseholes who know better 😉
Just remember that no matter who you are or how celebrated you become, there will always be ridiculous amounts of photographers with ridiculous talent better than you, AND always ridiculous amounts of photographers worse.
It simply doesn’t matter at all! Comparison is all about perspective, and that’s something you have complete and total control over. Rather than viewing another photographer’s work and feeling down because you feel incapable of taking shots like that, think “Wow! what a wonderful photo, I’m amazed that this can be done, and will set a goal to produce images just as good if not better in the future ” How’s that for empowerment! and the only CC you will ever need.
Of course, you need to learn, but I have never learned anything from an arsehole, in fact, I tend to forget them and their work quickly, I do however remember the kind encouragement, the gentle nudge, and the mentor types. I certainly don’t want smoke blown up my arse or my ego massaged, there is no worse critic of my work than me, like I say, a year from now the photos I post on this blog might end up in photograph heaven and replaced by what I perceive to be better, you see I trust my own perspective and talent enough to evolve without adding any arseholes to the journey
All progress and confidence are relative. We compare ourselves with our past selves. and we set goals in future to be our future self’s, ask question always, really “giving” photographers will tell you anything you need to know, the arseholes above will give you nothing but grief and in the long run dent your confidence, you have nothing to gain from engaging with the negative dream thieves, a polite “thanks for your feedback” is all that is required to shut these arses down. I have often seen me deleting posts where the arseholes take over the thread because you are always in control and remember these sort of people don’t care about your photo, they only care about their own opinion and as I’ve said before opinions are for arseholes, everyone has one. Keep snapping, keep reading and keep learning. For every one arsehole, there are 10 empowering photographers. Enjoy my photos, I do, and you know that’s another important lesson if you enjoy them then who cares what anyone else thinks. Peace 😉
Mark Mutch O’Hare