We are constantly looking. Looking at how everyone is doing life. How that blogger started her blog, how that photographer built a brand, how that mom parents her kids. The only problem is, we see it one second at a time. There are 86,400 seconds in a day and we see that split second the photo was taken. We make a judgment on someone's life based on a single post. We begin to make formulas based on these posts for how we can get to where they are, but we are missing the other 86,399 seconds in their day. We are missing the failures they made to get there. We are missing the horrible photos they took when practicing. We are missing the bad blog post they never published. We are missing the process. Young people of today, hear me when I say this. Everyone has a process, trust your process. If you're looking at my social media right now and you think you know the formula to get to where I am today, I am here to tell you, it's not a certain camera body, it's not a certain camera bag, it's not my age, it's not a preset, , it's not the city I live in. So, I am sharing 3 things that I believe got me to where I am today; that you probably don't know.
1. I was a student first.
If a 10yr old showed up for an audition to a ballet and said: "I want to be a dancer, so here I am, to dance for you." They would direct them to some dance lessons. If Sally, 15, wants to be a hairdresser, she doesn't open a shop and start charging people, she goes to hair school. I took my first photo class in 8th grade at the local art center. I went to camps, I read books, I studied award-winning photographs, I took a summer course at GW College, I entered my photos in county fairs, I asked my local paper if I could take photos for them, I took my camera everywhere. I made sure that when someone in my life thought "photography", they would think "Claire". I emailed photographers and asked if I could intern, I asked my teachers questions, I joined student council to run the photography committee and I took photos of my friends for free. Do what you love for free first, it reminds you who gave you the gift and gives you the freedom to be a student. I took photos because that's what I loved to do. Luckily, it's 2018, so you have YouTube and a lot of your learning can be done for free, but never underestimate the power of face-to-face teaching.
2. I was critiqued; a lot. Being an art major for the first three years of my college experience taught me how to be okay with critique. After every assignment, all of our work would be pinned to the wall for all to see. I'll never forget the first time I was shocked by a critique, but also allowed it to help me grow. Professor Wang told me my junior year, that my photos were "too pretty". When I thought about this, at first I was annoyed. Too pretty? Is that even a thing? But, I realized I had come to the point where my creativity was being held back by my insecurity. I was trying to be perfect. Critique helps you grow. When is the last time you asked someone better than you to critique your work?
3. I held on to my dream. There are pictures hung in my Grandma's house that my mom took. Those images planted a dream to take photos just like that. So, I used the camera I had and took photos. I didn't know then it would turn into a business because all I wanted to do was take photos. The money didn't matter, the title didn't matter, I loved it. With twists and turns along the way, I always clung to the simple desire I had --- to take pictures. So, my biggest advice to anyone wanting to be an artist. Stop worrying about your Instagram feed, stop comparing where you are now to where someone else is, stop trying to do it their way, stop worrying about making money right away. Enjoy the freedom of creating, because you're young and you can.
4. I took bad photos. Picasso wasn't born a master, I certainly wasn't, and neither were you. Take that pressure off, it's not helping anyone.
And fyi, the process is still in process. I have not "arrived". Never stop learning!
Book: In conclusion, don't worry about it. by Lauren Graham.