Individuality and creativity

.. .(presenting)  your personal work is a central part of creative art; in exposing your ideas and expressions to the cold light of impersonal inspection, your work – and your own attitude to it – gains strength.  … Diffidence inhibits creativity. Tom Ang.

I find it difficult to show my work.  I question why anyone would be interested, why people would be bothered to look at my photographs (slide night anyone??)  or read my writings.  I frequently ask ‘WHY”  I have a blog, why I put photos on on my blogs or Facebook. And the only answer I was able to find until I read Tom Ang, was that I am a photographer and writer and therefore, it is something I need to do. I have to express myself..

But, if I look at the process from the other point of view, that I am aiming to strengthen my work, then this gives me another acceptable answer.   Knowing that others may view my photos  drives me to consider, compose and  take shots that express what I want to say.  Thinking that someone may read my writing makes me choose my words more carefully, and revise more.  Sometimes I find this revision and culling process very helpful in developing my craft and attitude.  I have to ask myself what is it about this shot, what about this idea that expresses what I mean.  Often I see that I could have improved my technical skills, or that what I saw in my mind’s eye was not what appeared on my screen.  Other times, I feel as if I just want to relax and enjoy the shots for their memories or the weird way they turned out. I want to play with the words.

When I look at my periods of deepest personal growth, they have happened most often when I have been placed in a situation where I had an impersonal eye looking carefully at me. Therapists or colleagues, friends or enemies can all call us on our behaviour and our barriers and challenge us to move past whatever it is that is holding back our growth.

What do we fear most from critiques?  That we will be told everything we have done is wrong?  That we are hopelessly inadequate ourselves?  Are we afraid that if others look at our work or us too carefully we will be exposed for frauds as artists or people?

Once we have heard this challenge, it is still up to us to decide whether we can take it on or not.  Will we by-pass this call for change?  Will we be happy enough with the level we are at, ignoring the potential for improvement?

If we accept the need for change, for growth – are we afraid our growth will take us in directions others do not understand?  That our work will be too different, that we will be too individualist to fit within the comfortable framework we have operated in for the last few years?

Improving as a photographer or writer could bring more opportunities for more critiques.  Am I willing to move down that road?  Am I willing to put more work, my vision and my individuality out there, for more and more people to see and to critique?  They will continue to challenge me.  I will continue to have to make a choice between more learning and saying ‘Enough’.

The more I place my work in public, the more I open myself to challenge as well.  Am I prepared to continue on the journey of self-discovery and change in public?  I think Tom Ang’s words apply equally to our inner growth.  We need to critique ourselves, our actions with a dispassionate eye. We cannot allow ourselves to hide behind comforting excuses, blaming others, the situation, our birth order for what we are or for our actions.

Fear of turning the cold light on ourselves means that we hide in the shadows and lose the chance for taking the next steps forward.

Bring on the critiques!