Inspiration and Determination

29th January 2012

When I started this course I did so for several reasons, the first because I was in love with my hobby and decided that I wanted a formal qualification, something I was denied access to when I was at the normal age for obtaining such things.  The second, and much to my embarrassment now, I expected it to somehow provide that ‘inspirational leap’ needed to go from liking making images to becoming ‘a master’ at it and to always have the inspiration to see bodies of work wherever I looked.  I dare say I’m not alone at having had this sort of thinking, and I hope that anyone who reads this recognises themselves and admits it too.  How this ‘leap’ was supposed to happen was, I suppose, through osmosis; being exposed to a concentrated period of study on the subject would somehow trigger hitherto hidden talents, and of course that’s nonsense, it hasn’t, not yet anyway, and I doubt it will come as some sort of revelation in the future.

What has happened when I reflect upon it, is that I now see bodies of work where I wouldn’t normally have seen them, not in great profusion I must say, and that’s because I’ve been exposed to bodies of work by other artists which in the past I wouldn’t have considered art.  Now there’s a thing, I’m now considering photography as art, something I hadn’t fully accepted when I started the course, and not only that, I’m considering work by people I’d never heard of, and initially despised as art, as inspirational, what a turnabout!  Am I any nearer becoming ‘a master’?  Somewhere in this log another student wrote a comment which, paraphrased, said that I shouldn’t expect to become a better photographer because I’m doing the course, he didn’t see that as happening.  Well I can honestly say I think he’s wrong.  I think my photographs are improving and becoming more accepted, not necessarily as works of art per se, but as images others want to have copies of, and I’ve recently sold several dozen.  So the answer to my own question is, yes I do believe I’m nearer to being ‘a master’ than I was.

Have I found something that inspires me to go out and make a body of work?  Yes I have, several times, have I gone out and made them? No!  Why not?  The answer is quite complex; I don’t want to waste the ideas I’ve got by making the work before I feel ready to them justice, which could mean that they’ll never get done as I may never feel ready myself although others may say I am.  There is also the argument that by making those bodies of work now I’d get the experience of that and could always improve them later and it’s better to get them done than prevaricate.  There is something to that argument and that leads to the second part of the title ‘ Determination’.

Determination is the will to actually go out there and do it and although when I think of the ideas of the work I’d like to complete, the determination to actually do it seems to somehow dribble away when it comes time to do it.  I’m not sure why that happens, maybe I’m lazy, although I don’t suffer from this with all the other enterprises I’m involved in.  Maybe I’m scared, and by that I mean unsure of my own ability to do the work, that’s a strong possibility.  Maybe I’m afraid of the criticism I’d receive when complete, that’s also a strong possibility because I, like many others, don’t like to hear that my work isn’t as good as I think it is.  This is something I’m trying to work on by refraining from looking at critiqued work from my tutor as soon as it comes back, the work is too fresh in my mind and I think I’m probably being too precious with it.  By looking at it some time later I find I’m looking at it more as someone new to it would and can see the mistakes brought up in the critique.

So, if I’m now finding the inspiration and I’ve worked out what to do about determination, will things improve?  I’d like to give an unequivocal yes to that, but I can’t.  So what am I going to do?  Well I’m still in the very early part of the course, my technique and images have improved enormously, my appreciation of what can make a body of work and art is improving, the ideas I’ve got will always be there and my thoughts at the moment are to concentrate on finishing the three Level 1 modules and by then I should have the tools I need to move on and attempt to ‘master’, to some extent, the ideas I’ve got.

I hope that by the time you’ve reached this point in this musing you’ve found something that has helped you personally and will help you to come to terms with some other doubts and questions you may have about your own situation.

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2 Responses to Inspiration and Determination

  1. CliveW says:

    ‘don’t like to hear that my work isn’t as good as I think it is’, this is a major universal barrier that everyone has to surmount; fantasizing about the critique one’s going to get before one’s even done the work.

    Everyone is here to be critiqued, that’s the point of the exercise and everyone does get critiqued but in a positive helpful way I would hope.

    I was writing elsewhere this week that students shouldn’t be so worried and fearful; letting go of the anxiety that one is going to fall short of some self imposed abstract standard, getting on with it, accepting the result and moving on with the benefit of that experience is the only way to go.

    • Eddy Lerp says:

      I agree Clive with the sentiment Clive, but like most it’s the implementation that takes some doing. I’ve certainly found the critique most helpful, otherwise I don’t think my work would be improving, to my eye anyway. The way I’ve found to accept is to let the newness of the effort I’ve put into the work become dulled by time and then I’m not quite so close, concerned and invested yes, but I can look more dispassionately. Seems to work so far anyway. Thanks for the most useful comment by the way.

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