Anxious to please

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.

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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 anxiousRent 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.

not-so-intellectual property

The very mention of the term “Intellectual Property” sends a red flag to my conscience. Not only is the term loaded with thoughts of lawsuits and entitlement, but it implies a skewed perception of value. There seems to be an implied belief that the result of one’s intellect is where the value lies. Nothing we create is intellectual in itself. Rather it is a manifestation of our intellect as an artist, architect, engineer, performer, fill-in-the-blank. If we place all the value on the creation, we undermine and undervalue the creator.

To make matters worse we waste time and money bickering over who owns rights to the piece of property. Debates and court cases over Intellectual Property only kill the creative fuel that spawns the Intellectual Property in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe an artist should be appropriately compensated and credited for his work. I also believe that people should be able to take an idea or “property” and capitalize on it; I’ll even go one step further and say that this often breeds creativity. However, if we think the solution is to silence the competition then we have surrendered our intellect to the highest bidder.

The true intellectual property is us! It’s a gift from God that sets us apart from the rest of His creation. It seems fitting that when we neglect that gift we get caught up in the details of creation.