Who Defines our Success in Photography

What defines your personal success with your photography? Seems like a very straightforward question but with deeper reflection may not be so simple to answer.

This not meant to be a rant against social media. Our immersion in social media naturally leads us to think that our personal success depends on other’s impressions of us or in Facebook terms, how many likes we can generate. Relying on success as defined by others is a slippery slope and impossible to define. We are relying on the unknown tastes and opinions of others when we abdicate our own definition and rules around the achievement of our personal goals. Who knows what perspectives and creative values others hold as they look at our work? What they see when they look at our images is defined by their own personal experiences with its defined rules and boundaries. In social media, their perspectives are difficult to fully know. With limited interaction how can they ever be fully defined? Why put ourselves at the mercy of others for self-realization. While some of those we connect with on social media may be well known to us, most are people we’ve never met in person or had any substantial exchange with besides the occasional 140 character post.

We have to own our own personal goals and celebrate our personal achievements introspectively. Others, especially family members are important components of external confirmation but ultimately we own our feelings and have to feel good about what we’re achieving.

Once we come to terms with the realization that we’re responsible for our own happiness we can ignore all the obstacles and naysayers and press forward. I find this especially is true for creatives. Pushing beyond the “accepted” boundaries of our creative pursuits frees us to express ourselves without any constraints beyond those we can accept. Who knows what can result as we push those boundaries. What limits can we push beyond in our own creative processes? Ultimately, we’ll never reap the rewards that come from creative growth if we don’t ignore the constraints or influences that tell us we can’t go beyond or bend the rules around our creative pursuits.

Coming to terms with what makes us happy with our photography and defining it on our own frees us from the need for social media “likes.” We can be independent of any need for validation from our online peers. The only test is what we feel good about. Our images have to be what makes us happy. Our photographs may or may not be mainstream; it doesn’t really matter at all. Our images ultimately have to be personally rewarding to our eyes first. If they resonate with others, so be it…those people may share some part of our creative values.

In any event we need to keep pressing our creative boundaries, it allows us to grow and mature in our passion for photography.