One of my clients posted a review of my work on the Mud Productions Directory Listing on Pictage. She said something that caught me by surprise, yet it seemed to really articulate the way I work. Among other things she said, “He was very easy to work with and anxious to please us.” (emphasis added)
To be honest I’m always a little bit (and sometimes a lot) nervous before, during, and after a shoot. I take a lot of ownership in my work, and sometimes I get emotionally attached to it. Until I hear directly from the client that they like the work I did for them there is always this voice in the back of my head saying, “You blew it! You could’ve done better. They won’t be pleased with this…” It doesn’t matter how good I feel about my work; that voice stays there unless I know for a fact that my client is pleased.
I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with the negative side effects of this –putting my sense of self-worth in someone else’s hands, focusing on the negative, never being satisfied with my work, etc… However, I think an appropriate amount of this “anxiousness” can still be a good thing for a photographer or anyone in a creative profession.
We tend to get anxious when we deal with the unknown. The voices in the back of our minds tell us to avoid it because of the dangers that lurk there. Yet, this also the land of creativity, imagination, and inspiration. Creativity and failure are cousins. The surest way to avoid both is the stay in the land of the familiar.
To my fellow photographers: I encourage you to try something new that makes you anxious. Rent some new equipment, let someone else take pictures of you, put your camera at risk, ask others to critique your work…
You might fall flat on your face and take the worst pictures of your life, or you just might find the inspiration you’ve been looking for.