Can I make a confession? (Of course I can.)
There is a photographer I know on the internet – facebook, Twitter, Instagram – and every time I post any photo I’ve taken, I am painfully and acutely aware that she is there. That she can see. And I wish this wasn’t true, but it is: I am painfully and acutely aware when she says, by saying nothing at all, that I am not good enough.
And it makes me mad. But do you know what makes me madder? The fact that I care. That I measure my worth over and over again by the standards of someone I barely even know. That I give one person that much power over me, over how I feel about this dream that I am following.
And I have heard other seasoned photographers making fun of people just starting out. People like me. And I have wanted to hang up my camera, because no one wants to be the butt of someone else’s joke.
But here is the thing: we have all got to start somewhere. And those guys? They were once nervously posting photos on their facebook pages, on some hidden blog somewhere. Desperate to be good. Desperate for someone better to say, “You can do this. I’ll help you.”
So, here are my two requests of you:
If you are a seasoned professional, and you see someone just starting out, reach out to them. Try to remember what it was like when you were new, and you were desperate, and all you wanted in the world was for someone to encourage you. And go with that. Be that person.
If you are new and you are scared, I want us to make a deal: let’s tune out the naysayers. Let’s ignore the mocking voices, and not obsess over the names that are and are not there in the list of facebook likes. Let’s follow these dreams because they are rooted deep down inside our hearts. Let’s surround ourselves with people who believe in us, who encourage us, who are not intimidated by the prospect that we might one day become good, too.
Let’s just start, and then keep going, and when we are good, let’s remember this day. And then let’s find someone with a dream too big for their shaky little hands, and let’s tell them:
“You can do this. I’ll help you.”