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I am Uncle Bob

September 20, 2005

I didn’t sleep a wink last night. My mind kept sorting through the thousands of frames of pictures I have taken in my life to think about how I could make each one better. Cropping, lighting, composition, subject, background…every single picture I can think of was running through my mind and all I could see was that none of them were good enough. This wasn’t some sort of nightmare that I was having, this was real. You see, according to Andrew Clark, award winning photographer, my photos are “no better than the ones that Uncle Bob will take.”

I paid $350 to receive this harsh criticism, and I took it like a photographer. I smiled, accepted his suggestions on how to make them more unique and more photojournalistic, but the comments still stung a bit, and I admit, deflated me. I stayed an hour and a half after class pouring over album after album after album, getting ideas in my head of what to do differently so that I could be better. So that I can become him, minus the British accent. So that I too, can be in high demand and earn $10,000 per wedding. Granted, he has 20 some odd years of experience and I have three, so I am still very much a novice in the world of photography, so I completely respect his opinions and wish that I got more than just one more evening to absorb his skill and knowledge. I showed him photos from the very first wedding I did, where I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing, so in fairness, I knew I wasn’t presenting my best work. Everyone else’s photos only made me feel even worse, because they were all so good. These are the people that I will be competing with in the future. And while Andrew told us that there is more than enough business to go around, I would rather be in the position of turning someone away than begging to give me a chance.

As I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, I felt doubt creep over myself and worried that I was kidding myself, that I am not as good as I think I am, and that maybe I’m not cut out to do this. I pushed those thoughts aside and reminded myself that I’m not great at this yet and that is precisely why I paid to take these classes. If I knew what the hell I was doing, I wouldn’t have wasted my time or money. I’ve invested in myself to get better and I know that I have a lot of room to grow. I just need to remind myself of the happiness that photography brings me and continue to work on my technical game. I need how to learn to look through the viewfinder and see when the lighting is two stops difference and when a short depth of field is preferable over a longer shutter speed. I need to learn how to think all of this and make decisions in a split second, rather than contemplating for too long and losing the moment. The perfectionist in me needs to be present at all times, I need to make every frame worth something.

I think that part of it is also that I am so used to being at the top of the class. In all of the photography classes I have taken, most of my work has been considered for photo of the week, and I have been asked to submit work to student art competitions. I still talk to my old photography teacher regularly and he continues to praise my work. I’ve gotten positive feedback from all of you guys, my friends, my family. I think that it’s inflated my ego a bit and I am failing to see where I need to improve, aside from lighting, so I need to get back to that and heavily critique my work. It’s going to be a long process, but I’m more determined than ever to make it work. Sometimes having a sexy British guy bite you in the ass is just what you need.

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