some rambly thoughts about accepting praise from people

This is a rambly “thinking aloud” post. I’ve had thoughts going round in my head ever since I got into a really interesting conversation with a fellow photographer on Google Plus – the guy is clearly an encourager at heart, and he was basically saying: stop belittling yourselves, accept praise when it’s given, say thank you when you’re told your photo is really good and don’t do all that self-deprecating stuff that women so often do.

And it got me thinking about this whole area of how we react to comments on our photos – and some of this can be extended not just to photography but to all sorts of stuff we share publicly and get reactions to. Some of this will apply also to how we react to getting likes on our blog posts, for instance – as I sit here typing this draft, how do I feel about that star in the top right hand corner, the symbol WordPress uses to encourage me, to tell me that someone has shown appreciation of something I’ve written?

Of course it’s a nice feeling. But I feel it’s really important that I don’t get too hooked on that feeling – not as a blogger, not as a photographer, not as a human being in general.

But to go back to the original context – when I share my photographic work on social media and someone says it’s a great shot, how I feel at that moment can vary so much. It depends on stuff like: how I feel about this shot, who it is that’s saying it and how they say it – is it someone I have a lot of respect for? is it someone who says this kind of thing to everyone, or is it a person who chooses his words carefully? have they pointed out something specific that they like about this image? and of course there are other factors, such as: what sort of mood am I in? how have I been feeling about my photography in general? what other reactions have I had recently? do I have enough chocolate in my bloodstream? etc.

So my emotional reaction varies. And so do my verbal reactions. I don’t think I’m one of the people that guy was addressing really – I don’t think I’m big on the self-deprecation front, though I won’t say that I never ever do it. My general attitude is: if someone likes my work then that’s nice. If it’s someone whose taste and opinions I particularly respect, then it’s great! Getting encouragement from such people at certain points along the way was a huge huge help in my gradual shift from “I’m not a photographer, I just snap things I see” to actually daring to see myself as an artist who uses photography and digital photo editing tools to create art.

I’m just conscious of the need to keep all that at arm’s length and not get too hooked on that nice feeling, because otherwise I could so easily get sucked into the temptation to keep making the same sort of stuff, the stuff that got me those nice reactions. Instead of making art – making the stuff that I make because of a deep need inside me, whether or not other people like it.

There’s more I could say, about the blogging side of things and about being human in general – but I’m going to stop here. Thank you for listening while I ramble.

Questions? Thoughts? Talk to me - I don't bite :)

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