I've been spending this morning thinking about my work, what I have been doing, and where I have gone in the past year. Not so much physically, but in a progression of work and where this journey has taken me. Two words have come to mind: Humility and Pride.
Humility is a struggle at times, and possibly a hindrance. When and where is it okay to tout oneself? Is there a point that my humble nature comes as a disadvantage? Should I just throw caution out the window and tell the world how awesome I am? Do you see the struggle here? As an artist this can be the hardest thing to get over.
Most artists that I know seem to deal with this struggle. We get praise from people we know, and sometimes from those we don't, yet we don't know how to handle it. Is what we're being told honest and informed praise, or is it just someone trying to be nice? Can someone actually like our work this much? Our humility causes us to overlook the truly positive things that can allow us to have pride in what we do.
For most artists, and I'd hazard to say all, work is personal. How can it not be? To show your work to anyone is a way of putting yourself out for the world to see. Every emotion you have, even ones that you don't realize, get put on display for the public to pick apart. If this isn't scary to people, I don't know what is. However, due to the personal nature of one's work, how can one not be humble about it?
My humility definitely comes from a part of me that always comes back to the question of why would anyone want to see the deeper part of my psyche? I often try not to make it personal, and many times the content isn't, but because of the way I work, my "fingerprints" are all over it. The fact that I thrive on shooting alone and without distraction comes through in my images more clearly to me now than ever before. It is as much a part of me as the hair on my head, and therefore becomes evident in my work. That being the case, having pride in my work becomes challenging. Everything is out there, the good and the bad.
What is wrong with showing who we are, though? Yes, there are good things about all of us, but we all have flaws too. The struggle is to get past these flaws, to accept them for what they are and use them to our full advantage. Without these imperfections, what would we be? Perfect? Who wants that?!
I've started to have some pride in my work, though, and have tried to take compliments without also downplaying my work. It may not be obvious to everyone, and I definitely don't verbally express it often, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished. My motivation to make more work not only comes from the desire to better myself and my craft, but also because it is something that I DO find pride in. Whenever I capture and image that amazes me, I take some pride in the fact that I've done something that is good, even if I'm the only one who "sees it". There is nothing wrong with having pride in your work.
There is a balance we all have to make with pride and humility. Whether it is in our work as artists or in our daily life and how we live it, this balance can be a struggle. Finding this balance, though, can help us to become better as people and what we do in our craft, our lives, and how we progress in both.