Not too long ago, I spoke to someone who had looked at this website for the first time.
“Nice work,” they said. “Why are there so many pictures of trees?”
Since this post really isn’t about the tree images I’ve made, I’ll save a discussion of that for another time. Rather, this person’s comment got me thinking a bit about insecurity and taking chances with your work.
The image in this post, “RE/MAX Building No. 1,” was captured, edited, and printed a good six months ago. It has been ready for posting for awhile, and yet I’ve hesitated to put it out there. Why is that?
I suspect it’s because at the time I made it, it was quite a departure from the typical kind of work I had been making public. Over the last year and a half or so, I’ve been principally preoccupied with making landscape and nature images (including, yes, many images of trees). To the degree that people have taken an interest in my work, I suspect that they’ve come to expect landscape and nature images from me. That’s great! I love doing the landscapes and nature images, and I look forward to doing many more to come.
This image, however, is quite different from the landscape and nature work, I think. Not only is it different, but to me, it’s really kind of in-your-face different. At the risk of engaging in a critique of my own work, I would venture that the centered composition, flat image plane, and somewhat graphic feel of this image is rather at odds with the more arranged compositions, greater depth of field, and more “photographic” look of the landscape and nature images I’ve done.
Put simply, I was afraid that putting out this image might alienate the people who have come to be interested in my work. It still might, but I’ve concluded that I can’t let that stop me. It’s important to take chances with your work – it’s the only way to stay true to yourself, grow, and mature as an artist. Consider the alternative. If you put out the same kind of work over and over again, then in the best-case scenario, your work becomes solid, maybe even good, but always predictable. In the worst-case scenario, it becomes dull and repetitive.
So, here’s to taking chances with your work. May you always have the courage to do so.