The past year or so, I've found myself in the midst of running a photo workshop business and as part of that, I've been aware that I have set the bar very high in terms of what I'm trying to offer. I've had a few discussions with others about this and I know, from my musical past, that setting the bar too high, can cause a lot of issues. So I want to talk about perfectionism.
I think some of us have built in perfectionism. It's just part of our personality-makeup. I know that I suffer from this. I use the word 'suffer' because perfectionism is not something that goes along well with being creative. It can be a stifling force, that stops you before you've even begun, stops you mid way when things are in that 'not come together phase' of creativity, and it can stop you from accepting that what you did today is still good, even if it's not the best thing you've done.
Paddy Mcaloon said 'You're only as good as, the last great thing you did' in one of his songs. It's a lyric that stays with me, because although I think there's some truth in it, it can be a frightening feeling to think that you may not do anything good again, or at worst, as good as what you've done in the past, let alone anything greater.
Yes, perfectionism is a killer.
One of the things we have to get used to, if we are to create art, photographs, music, books, is that we have to work with something and keep it loose. Until it is finished, it may not be anything good at all, but we have to give ourselves a lot of slack, let our greativity go where it needs to and not be too analytical about it. This I feel is where perfectionism comes in. Perfectionism is writers block. It is a lack of inspiration and a sinking feeling that we're going nowhere, that we can't create anything good.
I've learned to live with the fact that some days are better than others. I know some images are perhaps not as good as others, but that's fine. I just never know what's going to happen. But I'm reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill which goes: "If you're going through Hell, keep going".
Improving our art, our photography isn't easy. I've had my fare share of downs as well as up moments. But I've never given up.
So I'd like to ask you, do you feel your photography is going somewhere, and do you feel that perfectionism is part of your personal make up? Do you find sometimes, you've set yourself such a high bar to achieve, that you feel you give up before you've even started? I'd love to hear about this from you.