Shitty First Drafts and Perfectionism

After reading Anne Lamott, I found that her writing techniques and hard truths apply to my photographic woes and successes. Whenever I’m sent out to a scene, either for staff or because I’m meeting a subject for the first time, it takes me awhile to get into my groove, more time than I’d like to admit. I have to make the subject comfortable, first of all, if they know I’m there. And if it’s a spot news situation I have to take in everything and handle all of the fast-paced action going on around me. I try not to be overwhelmed, but usually I am at first. I’m still figuring out the scene. But I try to pop off some shots just so I know I have something if it’s spot news. And I try to make pictures with subjects right away so that they get used to the sound of a shutter clicking and me moving around and doing odd things. They start to get used to it and feel less awkward and just do their thing. And I comfort myself by saying no one will see these first, most likely terrible, images. Well Jackie does in staff, but she doesn’t judge too harshly since she’s also a photographer.

I also really related to Lamott’s chapter on perfectionism. I’m the child of two fairly hard working and successful people, so I thought I always had to do the best in order for them to approve of what I did with my time. It became second nature to me to constantly question myself as to if something I did was “perfect”. Nothing’s perfect. And the sooner photographers and other artists come to know that, the better their work will be. Lamott said that perfection is the roadblock to inventiveness. Creativity is everything in a creative field, obviously. You have to be willing to try new things, get your hands dirty so to speak, and maybe something unique and amazing will come out of it. You won’t know until you try.

This also relates to the Gross and Shapiro reading on changing things up. I find that my most creative photos are when I take a stance that I haven’t taken before or have rarely taken. I get up high, I go down low, or I change my lens to a macro, a fish eye, a long lens, and the entire thing changes for me, in a refreshing and exciting way. It’s also more fun to shoot that way. I get excited about the possibilities if I always strive to change things up. It’s good to have a set of cardinal rules to follow so that you know you can get a decent shot. It’s like they told us in staff photo, when you go on assignment take the expected, safe shots that cover your ass, but then get experimental and adventurous, basically have fun. That’s when you can happen upon magic shots.


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