A post from Mike Johnston on The Online Photographer really got me thinking about where I'm going with photography. I mean, I love it and all that, no doubt there. But where's it heading? Since I started my The Art of Photography course two years ago, the idea of working towards a BA honours degree has grown on me. At first I thought maybe it would be nice to gain some sort of qualification whilst I'm studying anyway (it's not compulsory with my college by the way). Then I had vague notions of becoming a pro further down the line. But what does pro mean to me? I'm still finding my feet, developing a style and learning loads And just as importantly, I'm still discovering what floats my boat photographically. I'm quite sure Portraiture or Wedding Photography isn't for me and maybe not studio work (too scared to try it yet). Do I really want to turn my hobby into a job?
Okay, so here is my photographic dream: To carry on studying in my spare time and enjoy the journey of learning. To pursue personal projects that excite and challenge me. And also to sell my own work that I have chosen to do. And for those sales to support me.
That's my dream. It's a long way off. The reality is I've had a couple of nearmisses where I've nearly had my work licensed. I've sold a few prints to friends and family. More importantly, I get some positive feedback on my work from my tutor, my peers and other contacts I've made. This is promising and I've been pleased to get my work out there. But where can it lead?
In his post, Mike asks why art students are seldom successful in carving a career in their chosen field:
"Why is this? It seems to boil down to failures of either confidence or taste. [...] as if they cannot take themselves seriously enough, cannot muster enough ambition. They're content to dabble. Or, they just haven't engaged enough with art to really get how it works or figure out how to do it. In photography, especially, what seems to trip up most amateurs is a lack of self confidence. The single most destructive impulse I've consistently observed in amateur photographers, after working with them more or less continuously over 22 years, is their insecurity about not being liked or understood, and their concomitant anxiousness to please others. That may, indeed, be the principal legacy of a good art school education: the crucial insight that it is only by pleasing herself that the artist can ultimately please others. It's why professionals, whose job is, after all, to create things that are immediately and obviously pleasing to broad numbers of viewers, are so seldom remembered for their artistry."
This is what scares me the most; I think this is me. Well some of it anyway. The above paragraph really grabbed me by the throat and shook me. I now have to ask myself some important questions if I really want to pursue my dream.
I'll pick this up another time...