As I sit here capturing my thoughts from soul searching that I've been doing quite frequently, I keep folding myself into something I stumbled across yesterday. I saw a quote that hit me pretty hard and really made my inner being feel a little more complete. It read, "What other people think of me is none of my business."
For me that hit a home run in my spirit because it moved me to change my personal mindset. I used to want to be part of other local photographer cliques "the cool crowd", but really just didn't want to be associated with them after I learned more about them. I used to get onto social media groups and ask people to critique my photos. I used to be one of those who used to worry if my peers liked me, if people liked my work, if I was getting enough "likes" on posts, if my analytics were up high, if I could push my reach and bust the code of the social media algorithms, if my photos were going to get published in the right magazines, if I was making the right connections, etc., etc., etc. All of those worries and doubts suddenly melted away when I read and understood that sentence.
A lot of times as a creative we get caught up in the hype. We care too much of what other people's opinions are. We care because a lot of us have huge hearts.... Not all, but a lot of us. Yes, I've met some very talented people with no soul unfortunately, but that's another subject at another time. We creatives want people to value us. We want people to value our time, efforts, and creativity. Most people think that doing a photo shoot is just bringing a camera and "taking a few cool shots", however it's more than that and the people that work with me know it.
When you first start off in photography, you're busy trying to "learn and earn" your place in the world. You're trying to learn all you can about how to make your creativity excel, yet push yourself into a business that you have no clue on how to run. People will help, take advantage of, praise, and criticize you. After some harsh conditioning, you learn to just bite your tongue and move on, but when you truly gain the knowledge of "letting go" you'll realize that the things you were worried about, or rather the "IF's" are really trivial and petty things. Seriously, they're just an illusion.
As a creative, learn to love yourself and family first and foremost. Your work, clients, and any of those trivial things I listed above will always be there, even when you're dead and gone. If you're a photographer, learn to unlearn all you've learned when it's appropriate. Don't get caught up in the "hype". We want people to appreciate our work so much and to take us seriously that we'll even run around and trash talk one another. (I know....that used to be me years ago!) The lion doesn't worry about the opinions of sheep, and the Great White shark doesn't give a damn about the goldfish. Stop worrying about who likes you, or your work....DO YOU!!!
Side Note: My message to the creatives that run around still trash talking other people. Ask yourself this.... Has it improved your work, value, self-worth, or business? Have you gone any further? People trashed talked me so much that I used that to propel myself and filter out the garbage. You're still working with people who don't have value in themselves, your work, and primarily you. Stop doing it because you're only hurting your own community. Find peace and explore the joys of true family and friends! You attract what you put out... Positivity attracts positivity! For those who've trashed talked me and still do so...I own real estate in your head...remember that! If you stop doing it, you'll find freedom. As T.I. said, "Learn to let go and let God deal with it!" Don't let your ego control you. If you wanna get nerdy about it...It's the same thing Luke Skywalker was trying to tell Kylo Ren before he faded away.
Thanks for reading!
Mike @mikeconphoto on Instagram