Is that title click bait? I honestly don't think so because the video clip that i'm referring too, collectively has had far more than 10 million views. I'm doing this blog post not to brag but to educate. To pass on information, to reflect on a mindset i once had that i learned was perhaps not the correct way to view things.
Searching for perfection.
I think allot of photographers are perfectionist, at-least the ones i have met are and myself included. We are constantly unhappy with our work and always believe we can do better. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It depends how you approach it.
For me, that search for perfection used to do more harm than good but before we get into the bad side of it, let's take a look at the good. When you have a insatiable drive for 'perfection' you are constantly reflecting and refining your work. Looking for new ways to do things, better techniques and things to improve on in the future.
You approach every picture taken and scenario as the devils advocate, picking at all of the things you do wrong. I believe this is the breeding ground for excellence, it pushes you further than others to improve, to take better photographs to produce better work. This relentless work ethic and process of refinement at such a intricate scale is what could make someone into a master of their craft.
If you finally took that perfect photo but no one looked at it, did it ever happen?
This question is a bit tricky to navigate but it is a key point of a realisation i had. Before i get into that realisation and how it came about i want to quickly address one thing. If you seek perfection in your craft for internal validation only then what i have to say does not relate to you.
However, if you are someone who seeks perfection yet wishes to be a master of your craft and get paid to do so, then this one could hit home a little.
Create, then give.
This is where i made my mistake. I used to be so obsessed with perfection that i would never release any photographs or videos that i had created. There was always something that wasn't quite right. A piece of seaweed on the beach, the wave crumbled a little bit, the water wasn't quite clear enough. It is never good enough for me.
Because i was never fully satisfied with my work i wouldn't release it. To be honest, there is still not a single aerial photograph that i have taken that I am 100% happy with. I also used to see other photographers with thousands of 'followers' putting out photographs that were terrible...well at-least that was my point of view.
Why did i never release images? You could say the bi product of perfectionism but as i'm writing this I could honestly say that a huge part was for a fear of judgement. I knew that i internally judged other peoples photographs and i wasn't ready to be on the receiving end of my own criticism. What i didn't realise was, who gets to say wether an image is good or bad? Now i didn't come upon this realisation on my own, something happened that forced me to look at this.
The clip that change my point of view.
Back in 2017 i filmed a clip of my friend Matt Wiseman (Wizey) at an undisclosed location. The clip was ok but i didn't like it because I was flying at high speed to get out to film the wave and the drone was on an angle. I edited the clip up and gave it to Wizey to do what he wanted with. I never had any intention of posting it or using it, the way i saw it this was C grade footage and it could just sit and rot on my hard drive for all i cared.
Well, thank-you Wizey. Wizey ending up posting the clip that day, then another photographer re-posted it, then another, then another. At this point i thought well, maybe i should post it. So i did....then BOOM.
The unexpected happened, the clip was re-posted by pro surfers i looked up-to and almost every surfing magazine you could think of. It was shared by nature accounts, extreme sports accounts, holiday resorts and many more. I started keeping track of all the re-posts just to see collectively how many views it had. At 10 million i stopped keeping track. Since that day in 2017 the clip has been re-posted almost every single day.
The realisation i had was that it doesn't matter how good or bad i think the photograph or video clip is. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and every single person has different views on what perfection is. An image i hate may be loved by another person or by thousands.
Since that day instead of creating my art and then hiding it i've decided to create it and let the world have it. To just put it out there and let it be. Wether people love it or hate it is for the most part irrelevant to me. My personal opinion of that work is still valid and i may not like it. Most of the time i don't, but someone might.
In the end, isn't that why we do this? To hopefully bring some joy to the viewer? If you never gave them the opportunity to see it then how can you provide such joy.
Since i've started releasing most, if not all of my work regardless of wether i think it's B grade or A grade i have felt more at peace. I've been able to create, let go and move on. Just let the universe have it and do what it wishes with it.
Now i'm not saying that I am deliberately taking bad photographs or videos, i'm still critiquing everything with the same intensity and perfectionism i used to. I still believe i haven't taken an amazing aerial photograph. The only difference is now i release it for the world to decide.