Can you compare music and photography?
I’ve struggled so much with photography lately. Why? I have no idea. I keep thinking about whether my photos are good or not and care too much about it.
I don’t do this with music. I know I’m not the most brilliant guitar player, but I love playing the guitar and I keep practising to learn more and develop skills. I enjoy the learning journey and I enjoy playing even if I’m not great. So what is the difference? Why can’t I have this attitude with photography?
The thing is that photography, like art, is so subjective. Who decides what is good? There are lots of variables to examine (technical skills, composition, use of light, narrative etc) and lots of people having different opinions, but can you really decide what is good unless you know the photographer’s intent?
With music, I have my own goals I want to reach, and an idea of what I want to be able to do on the guitar or on the concertina. In photography, I don’t. I just want to become “good”, but without having a definition of what “good” means. And then you have all sorts of experts telling you what is good and what is not. When I try to search online to look at the work of famous and highly praised photographers, most times I don’t even like their photos. Of course it’s confusing!
I need to treat photography more like music, decide for myself what exactly I want to achieve, and work towards that. You know, when it comes to guitar playing, I look at players like Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Bryan Sutton and similar, and I try to learn their techniques because I like their style. I don’t try to play like Eddie Van Halen, because it’s not a style I’m interested in. And I don’t worry about pleasing people who like rock guitar or jazz, because I play bluegrass. So why do I care about what people think is good landscape photography, when in reality I’m more interested in macro and closeups, or gig photography? It seems so silly when I think of it.
If I don’t overanalyse my photos, I actually like many of them! It’s only because of my engagement in photographic competitions that I’ve started picking photos apart and that I tend to think like “what would judges say” and then I doubt everything I do with the camera (or in Lightroom, for that matter). How stupid! I need to set my own standards and just enjoy what I can do with the my camera.
So now I’m going to stop overthinking photography, and will focus on having fun with it (I know I said this months ago, but I didn’t follow it). This week I’ve been out for some pleasant walks, and have indulged in – blackberry photography!
And a few that are not blackberries but still caught my interest.