A few weeks ago Liane and I were out to lunch with a friend and Real Estate Photographer Jerry Weiner. Jerry has been in the business ever since I was a kid and he said something that really resonated with me. Jerry shared with us that “He is probably his worst critic!” That sentence really hit home for me because I feel the very same way about my work and I think that most creatives, whether they are photographers, painters, dancers, etc would say the same thing.
Let’s face the reality of our work, we all make mistakes from time to time. Sometimes they are small where no one would even notice but us, sometimes they are huge mistakes that will cause us to think we are crazy to be in this business, but big or small, mistakes are truly helpful tools for the creative.
Mistakes are really useful to creatives because it forces us to examine our work differently. Mistakes help us grow and become better artists. There are many times when I look at some work I did and think how I could have done it better: different composition, different lighting, maybe just taking a break and coming back to the work refreshed. For an artist, being self-critical is a good thing!
A few years ago I was at the beach with my two boys Nicholas and Zachary. There is a 14-year difference between them and I thought it would be neat to get some shots of them fooling around on the beach.
When we got home I uploaded the photographs I had taken and wanted to print a few out just to have around the house as a memory of our experience together that afternoon. When I went to print the first one, I guess I must have had some cardboard in the printer instead of photo paper and what came out was a smeared mess, it looked like a poorly done watercolor painting or so I thought. I was about ready to discard the piece of cardboard but for some reason, I was drawn to it. I could clearly make out my two boys but the abstract nature of the image was so compelling to me that I scanned the image into Photoshop and cleaned it up a bit and the result is what you see here. I really love the piece and when I look at it, it’s not just a passing glance, it compels me to think about what I am actually seeing. The parts of the image that are not clearly visible, like their faces, actually come into focus in my mind and isn’t that what our work is supposed to do? Isn’t our work supposed to be compelling? Isn’t that what separates a snapshot from a photograph?
In the end, we need to remember that mistakes and being self-critical make us better artists and sometimes our mistakes can lead to really wonderful things!