Today, Wyokiddo and I made the trek into town to deliver my photos to the fair. I’ve been shooting so much this past year that I had several I felt were worthy of entry. Several hours and $70 in prints, frames and mats later, my photos are entered.
I’ve been entering things at county fair since I was a kid. Usually it was a horse or livestock, but I also entered record books, artwork, food stuffs and even some leather work. Back then, entering in fair was part of the process of completing my 4-H or FFA project. I didn’t think twice about dropping off an entry.
But today…today I actually felt a little apprehensive. Would the judges like my images? Would my very best work stack up competitively against other photographers? After all, I was putting a little piece of my soul out there for others to see and judge. This year was a little nerve-wracking, I think, because my secret ambition is to one day work as a professional photographer.
There, it’s out there. My goal is to “turn pro” in a few years and actually make money as a photographer. I’m taking classes, working on a business plan, researching issues like insurance and liability and improving my photography skills each and every day. So there is more at stake, at least where my heart is concerned, by putting my work out there for evaluation.
While I get all my ducks in a row to work professionally, I’m working toward being professional in my photography each and every day. And that includes inviting criticism of my work. My work will one day be critiqued by clients, potential clients and my community at large. So I need to get used to it.
But there is also value in such critiques. It is an opportunity to see my work from an objective perspective. I might learn how to improve. I might also learn what I am doing right! Not all critiques are criticism – some can actually be validating. A second opinion might reveal strengths and weaknesses, both of which I can draw from to improve.
I had a choice this morning. I could have shoved my photos back in their bag, hightailed it home and just hung those babies on the wall. But that won’t help me grow.
There is only one way to avoid criticism:
And be nothing.
Instead, I chose to grow. I decided I want to truly excel at the craft of photography, so I needed to put my ego aside and put my work out there for judging.
Bring it on. Gulp.