4 | Fear & Failure

Silencing Your Inner Critic
We labor under the watchful eye of our very own personal voice of judgement. Most of us actually carry multiple versions: the judgmental parent, teacher, boss, childhood bully, whatever. These voices take up residence in our heads and are stubbornly difficult to evict. They are rarely helpful and should be banished immediately and permanently from your image making process. I know this is hard, but do your best to just ignore them, it will get easier.

And then there are the helpful voices that guide us as we assess and think critically about our work. These are our sensibilities and our tastes, our aesthetics and standards. They deepen with experience and are the active agents in our accumulating wisdom. These voices are important, but timing is critical. They need to be managed, which is something that all artists struggle with. But it is safe to assume that any artist engaged in an ongoing practice has learned when to consult these muses and when to shut the lid on them. They will be important later, there will eventually be a time for critique and analysis, but right now you should focus on your intuitions and learning to take leaps of faith.

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
— Henri Cartier-Bresson

You can start to silence your inner critic by learning to be less precious about your picture taking and more forgiving of yourself. Embrace the reality that every picture you take will not be brilliant, forgive yourself for being human, and give yourself permission to take some potentially boring pictures. This is much easier to do with digital photography than it was in the era of film-based photography, when every roll shot had to be processed, and usually printed, and artists were stuck paying for the shot whether it was brilliant or it sucked. With a smart phone or digital camera, there is no cost difference between taking one shot or one hundred, and you just delete the ones that disappoint. Use this to your advantage.

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