PetaPixel

Fear and Self-Loathing in Photography

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About twelve months ago, PetaPixel very kindly published my article “The Vital Link Between Emotions and Creativity in Photography.” Well, it’s one year later and I’m back to tell you how I over came my “Photographers block” and share a few key lessons that I have learned along the way.

After losing my mother, I felt like all of the motivation and creativity had drained out of me and I’d been left with a void that no camera or beautiful image could fill. To those of you that have lost somebody close to you or have suffered hardships, this may sound familiar.

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Putting the natural grieving process to one side, I struggled to figure out how to regain my creativity and get out shooting again. After a few months of getting my mind straight, I decided I needed something positive to focus on, and that’s when photography came to the rescue!

I have always been a keen car lover, which is why a friend of mine approached me and asked if I would help him take a few pictures for an article he was writing. At first I was very wary as I felt like every time I picked up the camera it was like picking up a brick and nothing useful could come of it. But after a long discussion with my friend about what he wanted to achieve — which was to produce a great looking automotive news/reviews website — I was hooked.

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I couldn’t wait to get out and start planning car shoots and location scouting. Then it dawned on me, the one thing I missed the most during my unmotivated period was simply “direction.”

Humans by their very nature seem to be able to achieve far more when they have a clear, laid-out plan and some direction for how they can achieve their goals. Before I knew it, we were out shooting cars and meeting automotive industry people and planning to take over the automotive world — thus was born Oversteer Addicts.

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Everything seemed great, but then the one thing that will get every photographer slipped in, the dreaded “fear.” I started to panic that the work I was producing was not good enough, and that people would mock it (even though the website hadn’t even gone live yet!). The problem with being creative is that everything you produce is yours, and therefore you have to take the criticism when it comes — that is a terrifying thing.

So now I had gone from not being able to produce anything to being too scared to produce anything. That’s when the inevitable self-loathing started to weigh heavily on my mind. Would I ever be good enough? Am I wasting my time? If there will always be somebody better than me, what’s the point?

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Let’s face it, we’ve all been there, right? Or is it just me? Please God don’t let it be just me!… The truth is, it isn’t just me, and my advice to any photographer experiencing this is to just stop it! Let go of the fear, it will only serve to cripple your creativity, halt your growth as an artist and ultimately restrict you from achieving the things that you want to achieve.

I feel lucky to have had the opportunities that I have had over the past twelve months, but they were all opportunities that I have allowed myself to have by letting go of the fear and saying “yes” instead of “I’m not sure I can.”

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Once you start to believe in yourself and act like the person that you want to become, you start to become that person. I know my images are a long way off from where they need to be, and I know that there a lot of people out there producing better work than I am. But now that I’ve taken the first steps towards getting out there and doing it, the rest will come in time.

Good luck with your own adventures…


About the author: Ross Jukes is an amateur photographer from Birmingham, England. Ross has a passion for cars, and recently became an editor and photographer for the website Oversteer Addicts. You can find more of his work on Flickr and/or his website.