Will I ever be a photographer?

For the first time since I started to take a more serious interest in the art and technique of photography, I’m depressed, uncertain, and shaken about my abilities (as modest as they are) and artistic sensibilities.

I have not gotten a single positive comment on any of my work in my current photo class. That has never happened to me before during a class or critiquing.

Sure I understand my photos could be improved, and I do appreciate the critical feedback. But aren’t any of my photos better than some of the other students’ work? Apparently not. And when the instructor praises photos that I don’t think are especially good, or gushes over techniques that don’t appeal to me, I wonder if I know anything at all about what a good photograph is.

Plus, I’m not sure I even understand what I’m supposed to be aiming at in my current class assignment.

I thought I did. But then when the instructor told other students that having “interesting backgrounds” was important, well, what does that say about my stark black or white backgrounds that I thought so stylistically appropriate for the mood of the assignment? And he said to another student, “So much is about the shadows.” But there aren’t any visible shadows on my black backgrounds, and some of my other photos are cropped so tightly that any shadows aren’t visible. So are the photos without shadows that I took and liked all wrong? Right now, I have no idea.

And Photoshop, my nemesis.

A Photoshop class was not a prerequisite for my current class, so why the presumption that I know what I’m supposed to do? I’m trying, I really am. And I want to learn. I truly do. But it’s frustrating when I apparently am already supposed to know my way around Photoshop much better than I do at this point.

And then I inadvertently do something in Photoshop I wasn’t supposed to do, and as a result, something that wasn’t supposed to happen happens, and I don’t know what I did wrong or how to undo the wrong thing I did. And the instructor comes over to me to look at my screen and asks, “What did you do?” And I haven’t a clue, so all I can honestly say is, “I don’t know.” And I feel incredibly incompetent, and that I don’t belong in the class.

I left my most recent class feeling totally disheartened and wondering if I’ll ever be a photographer.

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6 thoughts on “Will I ever be a photographer?

  1. I know what you mean… both with the camera and photoshop. learning what I learn along the way and always making sure I have fun doing it is the works best for me.

  2. Don’t be disheartened. Photography is not something to be feared of. Its something to enjoy. I love taking pictures. Be it a picture of nature or a person or simply a thing. It doesn’t matter whom you are photographing as along as you’re enjoying it.
    For your post it seems you dread taking pictures.
    My advice to you: Don’t think about anyone while taking pictures, not your instructor not your fellow photographers. Take as many shots as you need until you get that perfect one. And while doing so enjoy every moment. In order to get good pictures you must enjoy the task first.
    When you do that, you’ll instantly see a difference in your photography.
    It doesn’t matter whether your instructor appreciates your effort or not. What matters is your contentment with your work.
    Don’t hesitate to try anything new even if it defies norms of your class.
    Take one step a time and see yourself climb the ladder to success.

    Good Luck :)

  3. I’ll be starting a photography blog soon. And I wont think about what other people think. I’d do what makes me happy. Even if my pictures are not good, I won’t be discouraged. I won’t be doing this for anyone but for my heart’s contentment.
    Do the same and you’ll see the difference :)

  4. Thanks for your supportive comments.

    While I generally love taking photos and take many each week, at present, I feel I cannot just shoot whatever, whenever, and however I want because I’m in a class where I need to meet specific objectives and complete the assignments by the due date. I don’t have much choice in the matter.

    And at least right now, it does matter what my instructor thinks of my work and what kind of feedback I get from him, as I do want to learn, improve, and be successful in the class.

    The photos I take for my own pleasure and amusement are a different matter. With those I can have fun, shoot whatever interests me, shrug off my mistakes, and I don’t need to Photoshop any of them if I don’t care to do so.

  5. I’ve actually got more of a background with Photoshop than with photography – I got into web design in the 90s and didn’t get a DSLR until 2008.

    I totally get it about the assignments: being told to do something often takes the fun out of it. There’s an online forum I sort of dip my toe in that has weekly contests, and I find I can hardly ever get up the motivation to try and take photos for the contest. I have to be *inspired* by a scene or perspective or thing to be able to take a decent photo of it (part of the reason I’ll never be a baby photographer :P ).

    I’m kind of surprised you’re using Photoshop for so many of your assignments; I mean, knowing how to do things in it is nice, but Photoshop should be used judiciously if at all for most photography. Pretty much all I ever use it for are file type conversions, cropping, and minor tone or contrast changes (well, assuming I’m not working on my HDR photos, which are another thing entirely). I mean, one can do amazing things with Photoshop – but go too far and I’d start classifying it less as “photography” and more “art”.

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