Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Don't Be A Slave To Other People's Opinions

Dry Rose - Tehachapi, California
Why do we worry so much about what other people think about us? Why should I care if you like what I'm doing? Why do a lot of likes or stars or comments on social media make me feel good and the lack of those things make me feel bad?

We often put other people's opinions above our own. I care what they think more than I care what I think. But this is putting our joy and satisfaction at the mercy of others. We are giving our freedom of self-assessment away. We become slaves to other people's opinions.

We all want to be a part of a community. We want reassurance that we are doing a good job. We want to be appreciated and liked and loved. We want to be respected and not thought of as an idiot or fool or novice.

If I look to others for approval I'm chaining myself to them. I'm allowing those people to dictate my creativity. They are controlling my mind and heart.

Take the photograph above, Dry Rose, for example. This dead rose that never got pruned and remained on the bush all winter is a landscape eyesore. Other people might have looked at it and thought it was ugly. Some probably wished that the gardener would just cut it off. But I saw the beauty in the dead flower. If I had listened to other people's opinions I likely wouldn't have captured it.

The background in that photograph is nothing more than a sheet of white printer paper that I handheld behind the flower. Many people would not consider that a good background, but in this image it worked because it needed the simplicity. It's a good idea to disregard what people think will or won't work and follow your own creative instincts instead.

I'm not suggesting that you block everyone out. You should find one or two or three people whose opinions you trust. Listen to those people and carefully consider their advice. Then follow your gut.

Those whose opinions you don't trust, especially the opinions of strangers on the internet, should be completely disregarded. Don't worry if they do or don't like your photography. Don't worry if you have a bunch of followers on social media or not. If you only get a couple of likes or stars or thumbs up on a photograph you shared, don't let that bother you. Don't be upset should a crummy snapshot of yours get more attention than your favorite photograph.

You should be doing this whole photography thing for yourself. This is your opportunity to express your creativity and to nonverbally speak through your images things that you cannot express with spoken or written words. Don't give that away to others, especially to strangers.

Don't be a slave to other people's opinions of you and your photography. Self-assess your own images and decide for yourself if they are any good. Don't worry if anyone "gets it" or if anyone appreciates your art. Do it for you.

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