Photographers

Confidence and listening to oneself

Confidence and listening to oneself

The Art of Adventure - Bruce Percy

I finished my Portfolio online class a week or so ago. I really enjoyed running this one, and I found that recording myself as I went along carving out a portfolio of raw material was a good decision.

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I wanted to show the viewer that the creative process is an intuitive one, where any decision will take you on an unknown path with an unknown outcome, and specifically - this is ok. This is what creativity is about.

Over the years I have run workshops, I have found that many people endeavouring into being creative feel lost when they are lost, and that if they are lost, it is a sign of failure. But we have to get lost, to end up somewhere we haven’t been before, and to be doing things outside our normal parameters. Doing the same old thing all the time does not encourage growth, but being lost somewhere new invites us to experience new things and to incorporate them in our work.

Portfolio Development video classes £175.00

But the thorny subject of confidence has come up many times over the years, and this portfolio development class was no exception. I felt that many of the questions were their own answers, yet the authors of them did not realise that they had answered their own question. They did not realise that they had an opinion, and they weren’t listening to what their own gut was telling them.

One of the examples of this, that I see on my workshops is the question that usually goes something like this ‘do you think x would be good to do?’. This is really someone asking themselves - ‘I think this might be worth trying’, but rather than going with the hunch, the author of the question needs some kind of support, affirmation that their own intuition is to be listened to. I have often thought of myself as someone who is there to ‘guide’ or assume a helpful role as ‘sounding board’ to ‘enable’ their own decisions.

It isn’t easy, and I do not write these words with criticism towards my students. I realise that having to learn to trust oneself, and to realise that when we ask questions such as ‘would this be worth trying out?’ that this is really intuition telling us where to go next.

We live in such a structured world. Everything is results based, and because of it, everyone thinks this way. ‘success’ or ‘failure’ is how most of what we do creatively speaking is judged. It is why I personally abhor photographic competitions. Art is not competitive, and you should not be fighting with yourself. Assuming that one may make the wrong decision when creating art is very destructive to the role that creativity offers. There are no right or wrong decisions, and we should think of the act of creativity as a ‘performance’. Any musician will tell you that one performance is different from another, some good, some bad, and that the quality of what they do fluctuates. When you realise this, there is no room for judgement of ‘bad’ or ‘good’, but instead ‘that was different’. Or, it was only a performance and tomorrow I will do it differently. There is so much emphasis on making the right decision all of the time. It’s just so rigid, and it’s not why we are doing this.

To be creative, means to experiment. Experimentation by definition means you do not know what will happen. You are trying things out, seeing how they fit, or don’t, and altering things to make them the way you like. When you do something that does not reach what you had aimed for, it in itself is showing you another take on what you do. Being open to happy-mistakes is important in recognising that there is a flow to creativity that cannot be pre-determined. We just have to let go, and see where it takes us.

And it is this ‘letting go’ which eludes a lot of us. We feel we have to know the outcome, before the outcome has been realised. We feel we have to know what we’re doing, when in fact, not knowing what we’re doing means we may end up with something more fascinating than what we had hoped for. Being lost is almost an essential ingredient in being creative.

And so I think it all comes down to confidence. In accepting that whatever you do create, does not need to be judged. Nothing is a failure, everything is a stepping stone. One thing leads to another. To get to be a great musician, there’s a journey, a process of discovery, of blind avenues, of avenues you thought were dead ends, but turned out to be good diversions that taught you something.

Confidence is letting go.

I wish I knew how to teach people to let go. It’s just so hard. I feel I am often fighting a life-time of restrictions and rules, of rigidity that has been hammered in by the structures and rules that modern day society enforce upon us.


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