In addition to writing these postings, I am also a photographer. The image at the top of this page is one of my efforts. I started out as a writer who took pictures as a hobby, and found that people really liked the camera work I did. But, I genuinely have a difficult time accepting that people love my photographic work and view me as a photographer.
Trying to look at this dispassionately, I feel the roots of this reluctance to accept that I’m as good as people claim can be laid on the shoulders of my now long-departed (and unlamented) step-father. This man, who was a sergeant in the army when my Mum met him, made my life miserable. How miserable? Well, in my autobiography, a chapter dealing with him and his influence is called “Decade in Hell”, roughly spanning the years from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II to the assassination of JFK. This man was physically and mentally abusive – he once hit me with a baseball bat in anger; and nothing I did was ever good enough for him. I missed quite a bit of sixth grade because on many occasions Mum wouldn’t let me go to school, so bad was the bruising. He never quite figured out you cannot raise a child the same way you train troops. This occurred fifty years ago and I thought his influence had been eradicated, mostly with the help of someone I adored at the turn of this century. But, obviously his influence lives on, at least based on my feelings regarding the reactions to my images.
I was told daily for ten years that whatever I did was substandard at best. When I was invited to submit some images to a Toronto art gallery a few years ago, and I accepted that invitation, it was a major leap for me. One thing that helped me decide to do so was that some professional freelance photographers who’d seen a showing of my work at the Pickering Public Library pronounced it “professional quality”, so I had previously had some indication it was good. But I still wasn’t expecting the response I received. I’d never before heard my work referred to as “stunning”, especially by another artist.
Yes, of course I think it’s good or I wouldn’t share it with others. But all those years ago, had I dared even hint that my work was good, I’d have been slapped around. So, that explains why I have a problem accepting that others really like what I’m doing. As a result of that s o b from years ago, to me, they’re just pictures.
Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and encouragement) too.