Over the last several months, as I've been releasing new pictures, I've been noticing a trend. Now I'm not going to name names or point fingers (because it could happen to anyone), but I have been thinking a lot about this and figured it was time to share my thoughts. (Cuz sharing is caring...or so they say..whoever they are.) It's time to put an end to this.....
"...I'll never be as good as you."
"...maybe one day I'll have even an ounce of your talent."
"...If I could make something nearly half as good as this, that would be amazing!!"
(These are not direct quotes, just generalizations.)
I've been getting a lot of people leaving me very nice comments. (Which I appreciate more than I could possibly explain; your words really keep me inspired and driven to keep creating!!) However, many of them also happen to self-bash the commenter. Don't feel bad if you're reading this thinking, "Crap I've totally said something like that." There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to improve or having an artist you admire and aspire to. What I'd like to put an end to is the self doubt.
Too many times lately these comments have basically been saying, "You're awesome and I'm a big pile of poo who will never get to your level." Maybe not quite that drastic, but that's often how I interpret them and I'm not a fan of these thoughts. You see I used to be...how do I put this lightly....a Photoshop and photography noob. (Aka Past-Bert) If you don't believe me, take a gander at some of these beauties from deep deep in the dark and dusty part of my photo vault from a time when Photoshop first crept into my life and I started my creative journey to becoming the artist I am today. (Please note that I do not think I'm the GREATEST artist in the world by a long shot. I definitely don't want you to think this is just a post of me telling everyone how great I am or anything...I just want you to know that WE ARE ALL GREAT, just at different stages of our own glorious greatness...it's great.)
I've been there and it definitely is incredibly frustrating to look at work you admire, and to not even begin to know how the heck they got there. This is one of the main reasons why I started blogging about my process in the first place. I was beginning to gain a name for myself; well I already had a name, but it seemed like people were starting to learn it. Many of my followers were dropping a whole lot of "HOW THE HECK DID YOU DO THIS!?" comments, causing me to think back to my early days and how helpful it would have been if some of my photography idols would have broken things down a bit for me (and everyone else...but mostly for me). So here I am laying it all out on the line, and I'm finding more and more people thanking me for it, but then telling me there's no way they'll ever be able to achieve their own greatness.
YES YOU CAN!!!! I was by no means always the Photoshop wizard I claim to be today; I've spent YEARS sharpening my craft. Back in the day, Past-Bert (for you new readers, Past-Bert was first mentioned here) would spend hours on YouTube watching any tutorials he could find. He would give himself little assignments and attempt to create things he thought he could not. This set of skills that I've built for myself most definitely DID NOT just pop up overnight. It was over A LOT OF NIGHTS...like every night since 2003, to be exact. That's right, I've been learning techniques for 12 whole years, and I'M STILL LEARNING.
Like they say, you have to do something for 10,000 hours to master it...I still don't know who they are but they say it. Well I'd say I've put in those hours and then some and you can too. You just have to want it. You have to be willing to commit the time, try new things, fail, and then try again, read lots of books, watch tons of videos, and most importantly follow Robert's blog and tell all your friends and everyone you've ever met about it. (I mean what? Who said that?)
We all have to start somewhere and in the beginning, as much as I wanted to immediately be as good as some of the artists I followed, the only thing that was going to get me there was some good old fashioned HARD ASS WORK! Next time you're contemplating leaving a comment on someone's work in which you also tell the person you are a nobody and could never get to "their level," feel free to slap yourself right in the face and channel that doubtful comment into some hard work and dedication to learning your craft. (...But still leave a nice comment in which you DON'T doubt yourself.) I'm right there with you, constantly aspiring to be like other artists, and lusting after their skills and techniques. I always want to find new ways to improve my quality of work, and I have zero doubts in my mind that I can achieve WHAT EVER I WANT as long as I'm willing to work for it.