April 23, 2020

Just. Let. Go.

Picasso said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
I believe we all start life with our Vision fully intact and guiding us. We start off young, innocent and we’ve not yet learned to conform or to please others. 
For example: as a child when we painted, we painted how we liked things. Perhaps we had red skies, purple horses, blue grass…it didn’t matter how the world actually was, we painted it the way we saw it, the way we imagined it or just the way we liked it. 
But then someone frowned at our painting and said “skies are not supposed to be red” and then to make things worse, they gave Sally a big smile and a pat on the head because she had painted her skies blue.
We got the message: conform and be accepted, conform to earn praise, conform and you will be happy!
We were quick learners and so we began to conform, and the more we conformed, the more our Vision receded. The more we sought to please others, the less we sought to please ourselves…until one day our Vision disappeared.
And not only did we lose our Vision, we forgot that we had ever once had one.
When I started photographing at age 14, I had a Vision. But as I started to conform, to please others, to care what other’s thought (I call these Vision blockers) my Vision receded.
Eventually my Vision lenses got so dark that my Vision was completely blocked.
As I sought to “find” my Vision some 35 years later, I realized that I had to start focusing on what I wanted and not what others expected of me. I believed that if I could remove my Vision blockers, I could find my Vision. 
What I needed to do was Just. Let. Go.
Let go of caring what others thought. 
Let go of conforming. 
Let go of following the rules. 
Let go of worrying if others would like my work. 
Let go of trying to win competitions. 
Let go of getting likes. 
Let go of photographing “the right way.”
Let go of trying to please others. 
Let go of other’s expectations. 
Let go of my fear of criticism. 
Let go of everything.
Vision is what’s left when you remove all of your fears and insecurities, when you stop complying and conforming, when you ignore what others are doing and you pursue what you love. 
Once you don’t care what anyone else thinks about your work, you’re free to do whatever you want; to ignore the expert’s advice, to flaunt convention, to photograph the “wrong way” and to pursue whatever you love.
Not caring is a wonderfully liberating feeling, and for me it was the moment my work started to change for the better
To find your Vision and to change your work for the better: Just. Let. Go.

4 thoughts on “Just. Let. Go.

  1. Hello Cole,
    It has been a long time since I made a statement.
    But believe me, everything has a reason and this too. I think I can now say that I have developed my own style.
    I don’t know a real style because you are always influenced by the things you perceive.
    https://tojo-fotografie.webnode.nl/mijn-werk/, this is the address where you can see my work, I hope you have time to take a look at it.
    As you will see that there is a lot to see inside work, there is also a reason.
    walking is not so easy anymore so I have to work more in my small studio. But that’s not a problem.
    You’ve told me this lesson of letting go before.
    And I did that right away, and it is completely true my good friend, I was liberated.
    Despite the fact that I get a lot of likes at 550 px, I don’t care much anymore, and I mean it.
    If someone likes it okay, but if they don’t like it too good.
    I really take pictures for myself now, and print the best ones and I keep them in a folder.
    There are people who tell me to make a book out of it, but they don’t know what making a book costs.
    I do plan to make a book for myself, just as a reminder of my work.
    Every time your blog comes up with something new I always read it just because you know what you are talking about. And especially because you also produce black and white work.
    I have learned a lot from your friend, and I am learning something every time.
    I want to thank you for that.
    Stay safe in this weird time and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
    A heartfelt friendly greeting from the Netherlands,
    Toine van Steen.

  2. As the lyrics say in Rush’s “Subdivision” –” Conform or be cast out…. be cool or be cast out”, and more social commentary. When photographers become philosophers …. and not stuck in the preordained script of rules and other artifice…..

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