I know my answer to that, as a photographer at least. For the sake of this blog post let’s explore a little deeper and see if I can find someone that agrees. I was reading some news on the BBC App a couple of days ago and a few articles jumped out at me. Not about Brexit, although there was a really good one about that total disaster.
First to catch my eye was that the late Linda McCartney has an exhibition of her photography, it really is beautiful work and those images speak to me. Particularly of her children and Paul McCartney during their time living on the farm in Scotland. Reminds me of my own photography of the children, only I’m not a multimillionaire, don’t have a 200 acre farm in Scotland, my photography isn’t remotely as good in comparison to Mrs McCartney’s and my guitar playing is on the same level as the Beatles drummer, what’s his name?, Ringo something or other. As is the nature of the Internet I clicked the next article which was an interview with Sir Paul, ‘speaking words of wisdom’ as it were. Asked how he measures success his answer was: "Success is if I like what I've done," he says. "That's the real one. If I actually think, 'Well, that's pretty good.' Here comes another a photo that’s not particularly connected to what Paul MacCartney is saying, but there will be a point to all this in the end (as the Actress said to the Bishop)…
Back to Sir Paul: What did he make of Billy Joel's recent admission that he'd given up releasing new music because "I couldn't be as good as I wanted to be and I got frustrated"?
"These things happen to you. You get disappointed in what you're doing [and say], 'I'm never doing this again.' I suppose he's sulking, really." If that mood descends on him - and it does - "I just go and do something else, maybe go on holiday or something, and that can get you hungry again. But I still love what I do. I know that's what everyone says but it's true”
So, there you have it, in part at least. Measure something as being successful because you liked it. Keep trying something new, don’t sulk because at the end of the day you do it because you love it. If you’re not trying new things then it’ll get pretty boring, especially if you find yourself pandering to what either curators or social media decides is successful. For example I submit photos to LFI (Leica Fotografie International), occasionally I’m fortunate enough and extremely honoured to have one selected, awarded as a ‘Leica Master Shot’. There’s undoubtedly a release of dopamine when the email notification arrives telling me that my image has been selected. There’s the kudos and all that, there are those who didn’t think it was very good when you posted it originally and suddenly that stamp of approval means they “Love it!!!”, a case of the ‘Emperors New Clothes’ perhaps. That doesn’t make those shots anymore successful in my eyes, similarly the ones that are rejected aren’t any less successful, I’ve already judged for myself. It’s simply a matter of what a curator might like at that particular moment. What I’m attempting to say is that there’s nothing wrong in throwing stuff out there, especially if you like it, there is some satisfaction that someone else agrees, however please don’t become disheartened by the rejections. I saw on a FaceBook Group a while ago someone bemoaning how he wasn’t ever selected for whatever it might be (I think a photo competition of some sort) and I felt sincerely sorry for that photographer. His photos are plenty good enough, he likes them and yet I fear he’ll change his style, perhaps adopt one that might prove more popular in certain circles. I hope he doesn’t. We are all prone to that need to please an audience and yet the only audience we need to please is ourselves. That said I do feel some sense of anticipation if I’m shooting for clients, I sincerely want them to like the work I have provided, however this blog is mostly concerning Street Photography. My selection process for posting on Instagram takes place in the morning after I’ve taken the dogs for a walk and whilst I’m sitting on the toilet. I hope that hasn’t taken any of the magic away! Speaking of Instagram the other article I read was how Instagram are rolling out a new way of seeing photos. The viewer will no longer be able to see how many ‘Likes” a post has, they say it’s because it leaves people who only have only few ‘Likes’ on their own posts prone to depression and a feeling of being unsuccessful. Wow, it’s serious stuff, I thought it was just a bit of fun. They’re also attempting to get rid of the robot followers. Apparently in the UK alone there are 40 million Robot Profiles or some ridiculous figure like that, some of these Instagrammer’s have 100k followers, 80% of which are robots. So my take on all that is don’t take it or yourself too seriously or become a robot for that matter.
So, you’ve already seen some images on this blogpost from this weeks efforts in Bath. To end here’s a very quick run through of what happened. Incidentally I saw a family of Australians laughing their heads off stood outside a cafe where the sign read ‘Please keep this door closed due to heatwave’. I asked why they were laughing and the father said ‘Call this a heatwave mate? What’s the temperature? 20C!’ It was actually 18c, but In all fairness last week we did hit 30C, even that might prove to be decidedly chilly to some of our Aussie friends. I tried all sorts which you’ll note from the shots you’ve seen so far.
Up fairly close:
Stood waiting for someone to walk past some temporary boarding:
Trying practically anything; colours, reflections...
In the end I stood in a street, opposite some columns and waited to see what might transpire. We already saw are lady and her photographer friend in the opening shot:
Was it a success? The answer is Yes, some of what I produced was “Pretty good”, but more importantly “I love what I do”. I’m not going to “sulk like Billy Joel”, I’ll keep trying new and different methods, who knows what might happen…simply ’Let it Be’.
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm Lens fitted.
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