Monday, July 30, 2012

Today's Guest Blogger: Kevin Pepper

Today's guest blogger is Kevin Pepper. My friend Kevin and I are doing several projects together. The first will be held in Canada this fall. Take it away Kevin.

“Why is it that some photographer’s are so insecure about their photos?” The answer may be different for each of you. As you self reflect only you know your reason. You may not be formally schooled and learning with each click of the shutter... or is it that your photos, or rather your art are your personal interpretations of a scene and you lack confidence in your abilities to produce an appealing image? 

I tell my students all the time that being insecure doesn’t mean you are an incompetent photographer! Being an insecure photographer means you are only human. But the good news is you probably have made the first step and put yourself out there where others will have the opportunity to judge your work. Social media sites, photo sharing sites etc…

But then inevitably you see another photographer’s image that you deem of a higher caliber. You start to have those feelings where you don’t feel worthy of that praise your loved ones and friends bestowed upon you. It’s easy to look at someone like Rick Sammon’s work and compare it to yours, it’s all there online for you to see and compare. What you are seeing is a difference between your work and the images from someone else from your personal point of view.

Let’s face it, we all do it. Inside your head, you silently compare one image from a photographer with yours. You end up being so self critical of your own work, while at the same time you are putting the other images on a pedestal. But all you are really doing is sabotaging our own success…

If you don't agree it sabotages your work, let me ask you this; what happens when it’s time to go to work at your next photo shoot? Do these self-doubts in your head creep to the forefront and possibly affect your creativity? Yes. Do these thoughts then affect your work product? Absolutely. Will these negative thoughts then hurt your opportunity to make a living at photography? I cannot see how it wouldn’t affect your income potential.

One possible way out of this is to do what a lot of people do. We emulate another photographer’s style until you master it. If you succeed in really copying another photographer’s art, you can then hang it on your wall and be proud. Voila, you will have successfully managed in subverting your creativity and becoming a photographic drone destined to mediocrity… congratulations!

Stop it! Your personal style is your creativity and that is what makes you unique and your art desirable and original. The difference is, and always will be you; after all, you are the brand, and your brand is what you sell. The only comparing your need to do is with yourself; where have you come from, how are you maturing, and where are you going on your personal photographic journey?

I can attest that once you let go of the insecurities… the opportunities will come. Once I made the conscious decision to put myself out there and be proud of my work, the opportunities started. My workshop business started to grow, I started writing for a few magazines, I am writing this post one of the most viewed photography blogs in North America and I am now running a few photo tours and workshops with Rick to Venezuela, Iceland and Africa

My piece of advice to you, learn the skills from the masters like Rick on one of his
workshops, celebrate yourself as photographer, be proud of your work, mature as an artist, believe in yourself and reap the rewards of your individuality.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Jason L. Eldridge said...

Perfect! I needed this post. Thanks Kevin Pepper! Rick, thanks for you too for having the guest post.

Canon Snob said...

Kevin, your comments certainly ring true for me. One reason why I might feel that my photos aren't "good enough" is that they aren't good enough! As a friend told me once, how can you expect to get better if you're only taking photos once a month/week? Point taken.

But, regardless of how much time I spend in the field, I've been so frustrated and stressed by trying to capture the "perfect" shot that the joy of this great hobby of mine just evaporated over the past couple of years.

On a recent vacation, however, I was so spent emotionally about all this that I decided I would take just one camera and one lens and not have a single planned shot. I'd just let images "appear" as I walked around. In other words, I removed all the stress from myself because I was too tired mentally to be bothered.

Anyway, I was blown away by what happened. As I walked on various beaches, in flower gardens, and on the streets I would see something and stop, examining it for a bit, take a few photos from different angles, and then move on. I did this all week and quite enjoyed the experience because I didn't really have any expectations.

When I got home and loaded the images onto my computer, I was amazed at what I saw. Whether or not they were "perfect" was not the issue--I LOVED what I saw! I'd seen wonder in the ordinary, in the bushes and trees and flowers that I would usually pass by. It was awesome. And, for what it's worth, the people I've shown the images to have loved them also. But even if they hadn't, the week was very worthwhile because I took the pressure off myself and photographed whatever was there in front of me in the moment, and I noticed that I began to see and to wonder again. And that made it all worthwhile.


denise said...

Kevin, You make some great points :). Each of us has our own vision, that's what makes the world go 'round. Developing and fine-tuning that vision is essential for a photographer to grow.
BTW-Killer image!

Kevin Pepper said...

Thanks for the comments so far everyone. I am glad that I gave you some good information. Photography is a personal journey and the more we take photos and the more we just live in the moment when we are looking through the lens... the better we will all get.

Just never forget to look up, down and behind you. The shot isn't always right in front of you. :-)