All the Things I'm Not

I have been thinking on what to write for this blog for several days. Generally, I like to start with a theme - a camera related topic, something that has inspired me lately, an idea for future photography, a question someone asked me. But this month, I had nothing. Nada.

No, this isn't a blog about nothing. Never fear. It is, however, a blog about something. Perhaps several somethings.

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The first one is the inability for people to understand that I don't take people photographs. I run into this all the time. Because I photograph flowers and insects well, does not mean I can photograph your wedding.

"But you take such good photographs."

This is the most common comeback. I would like to point out that photographing a butterfly is distinctly different from photographing you and your new spouse. Namely because the butterfly is not going to complain I got his "bad side." The same goes for flowers. I can decide how I want them to be in the picture and they will stay there. I can manipulate, alter, and fake the shot to my heart's content without flak from the subject.

This is a distinct bonus with nature photography.

And that leads me to my second topic. Photography-envy. I spent several hours last night looking through some of the BEST children photographs EVER and suddenly I wanted to be all the things I just spent three paragraphs saying I'm not. 

Wow. Beautiful children. Porcelain faces. Expressive eyes. Why can't I do that? I berated myself the entire time only to realize I have no subject matter (No children in the immediate vicinity. My daughter turns twenty this year, is unattached, and is not interested in forming attachments. Sigh.), no gall (I am a wallflower who loves being a wallflower, hence my love for flowers. They don't talk to me and don't require me to talk back.), and no gumption to be any different.

So all of that throws becoming a children's photographer out.

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What am I good at then? I compare my work to others at popular websites and begin to feel lower and lower. Man, I can't do that. I'd never travel there. (I don't travel much anyhow.) Where did he find that to photograph it? It becomes an endless stream of degrading questions asked by me and answered by me until I'm insufficient and unable to take a shot.

"Stop it, Suzanne."

I tell myself that a lot, and I have a friend who tells me that. Just yesterday, she said, "Shut up." I appreciated that because my tendency to tear myself down often takes over. This is a normal human thing. 

Every person comes to a time in their life when, no matter what your hobby is - photography, writing, cooking, gardening, sports - you've compared yourself to someone else and realized you're not all that. It's okay to feel that way because it's true. You're not all that. Neither am I. Or that chef on TV who won a cooking competition saying the entire time she was the best ever. (Okay, I'm rambling now.)

You are, however, good at something. You just have to find it.

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Point in case. I took a shot yesterday for my 365 Project of a flower in my garden. It's an interesting flower, but one that I've had there for several years, so not new to me. Also, the day was windy which is not usually good for flower photography. But I needed a shot and there were several blooming, so I decided to take it.

Side trip in the story. I've begun taking pictures exclusively in RAW. Why? I haven't any idea, but it seems to help with the quality of shot I'm getting. I'm also using Aperture Priority more often, especially in macros where I need more depth of field. (There's your photography "hmmm" thought for today.)

But back to my story. 

I decided to photograph the flower, and I decided to use a diopter given to me by a friend. I love using the diopter, but it requires me to do a couple things. First, I have to use my telephoto lens because that's the only one it fits on. (Good reason.) Second, I have to use manual focus because otherwise, my camera says, "What? Where?" and the battle between me and it becomes frustrating and pointless.

Knowing both of those, I fixed my lens, chose aperture priority, F11 (because more than that gave me too slow of a shutter speed and would require more ISO), and took the shot. I then did what I always do, I posted it online at several places, expecting a couple nice self-gratifying comments, and went on with my day.

However ...

Come nightfall, the photo had gone bonkers. I've had more comments on that one shot than anything I've done all year. Go figure. 

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You never know when something you do that seems so ordinary to you (like that flower in my garden) is actually extraordinary to others. All the time I spent beating myself up because I can't photograph children served no purpose other than to bring me down. When all along, one flower growing two steps outside my front door proved that I am good at something and people appreciate it.

In my fiction writing, I never read bad reviews. Never. At certain websites, I don't even look to see what stars I've gotten or haven't gotten, but just the overall rating. I do this because I know "me", that I have a tendency to, again, beat myself up, and I don't handle rejection well. Some people don't agree with this idea. They say they must "pay attention" to their readers.

But for me, it all comes down to one thing - and this affects both my writing and my photography - I do both because they make me happy. My goal from the start is to turn out a well-crafted product that shows the best of what I was on that day at that time. 

The pats on the back are great. Just this week, one of my stories hit number one at Amazon. That was a mind-blowing day. However, that is not why I write. And it's not why I photograph either. Comments are the icing on top of the accomplishment I already feel because when I wrote that, when I took that, when I created whatever it was, I know that I know that I know I worked hard and liked what I was doing. I enjoyed myself.

And that should be the basis of everything you do. 



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Suzanne Williams Blog

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography. 

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