Do you like my work?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Maybe
Perhaps you are familiar with it and yeah, you actually do like it. Or you’re seeing it here now and WOW those ballerinas sure look amazing in that light. (Then check Yes. And thank you. Two blush-y emoticons for you.)
Or you might hop on over to my business page or see my images in your feed, and think “eh, I’ve seen better. Not my cup of tea.” No likey. (And that’s okay, go ahead and check NO. I’m fine.)
Or maybe, just maybe, your toddler is crying and your dog is barking and there are 52 dishes piled up in your sink and two loads of laundry in baskets waiting for you to fold and you have lunch plans with a friend who kind of irks you and your jeans aren’t fitting right and you have not watched the new episode of Game of Thrones yet and you feel left out of all the chit chat and your husband just texted that he’s going to be home late and oh shit you need to go get a gift for the Build-A-Bear Party your kid is invited to tomorrow and you’re going about your business living your life and whether or not you click “like” on one of my photos does not amount to a hill of beans in your world. (I guess that’s a MAYBE?)
I’m not in 3rd grade passing crumpled up “like me” notes. I’m just living in an age when a “LIKE” from complete strangers seems to carry a lot of weight. And lately I’ve been wondering why we give a shit?
Are you practicing your craft every day and learning a lot and making strides at getting better?
Do you sometimes look at the back of your camera and have to catch your breath because OHMYGOD! that last shot was fantastic and you just know you captured something very special? Then you pull that bad boy into Photoshop and you edit the heck out of it using a new preset that you are super psyched about and you stare at that image and you are so, SO proud.
Well, I want to challenge you to stop right there and do as follows:
Print it. Print it big. Frame it, or canvas it, or have it made into a huge-ass poster (that’s a technical term). Hang that mofo up in your house and marvel at that shit. My bet is that you will love it more and more every day.
Here’s what you should absolutely not do: put it out on social media and wait for the approval of strangers.
In his book “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield, an accomplished writer of both fiction and non-fiction, writes “any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is monopoly money; it’s not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business.”
I think this goes doubly so for social media approval. Because as demonstrated above, that person that we only know as a tiny profile pic may or may not have better things to do on a day when you present your favorite image to the world. Will they like it? Yes. No. Maybe.
Sure, I know that it feels good when a zillion strangers (including artists that you admire) love on one of your images. It feels damn good. But what about tomorrow? Is your work any less important or special to you on a day when people are busy living their lives and don’t even see your image?
I have had so many conversations with fellow artists about how the “crickets” on their page really get them down. Or how an image they really love hasn’t gotten much play on Facebook and now they’re doubting it. They start thinking that maybe they should just give up on the whole photography thing. This makes me sad because these are good people and sincere artists with sensitive souls and their images are beautiful, special, fantastic. Artists are filled with self-doubt as it is. We don’t need that thumbs up or lack of them to add more of an incline to what is already an uphill battle.
It’s monopoly money friends.
Just handle your business. Be the best artist you can be today, and aim to get better tomorrow.
Most of us can’t totally withdraw from social media. It’s too much of a part of our daily lives. But it doesn’t have to crush the artist in you or douse your creative fire. Please don’t give it that much power.
Do you like your work?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Maybe
Because yours is the only answer that matters.