I've realized in the limited time that I've been publicly sharing my San Francisco landscape photography that my tastes and likes don't always match up with other peoples.
I'm quite cynical, harsh, and an extreme perfectionist about my photos. I find one glitch, a subtle flaw, and suddenly that's all I can see. I linger there until it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, forever scarring the image and leaving me with hesitations about releasing them from their cocoon, kicking them out of their nest, and exposing them to the world. It is such a fine line between being uploaded for the world to see, or spending eternity locked on my hard drive.
I find myself feeling bad for the rejected photographs. If it weren't for the weather, or my lack of detail, or just bad luck, those 'almosts' could have been spectacular. Instead of popping up in people's news-feeds they remain in my 'Possibles' folder. Purgatory for photographs.
Well that's me. Probably somewhat OCD, especially when it comes to my photography. I have a baseline confidence that dissipates when displaying a piece of my art. A direct link to me. A piece of my soul. A window into how I perceive the world.
The insecurity of the rejection has established a perfectionist evolutionary survival technique in me. A means to protect myself from myself. If I weren't a perfectionist, I would be uploading photographs that had no right leaving my desktop. Being self-critical to an extreme helps protect the best of my photographic art from being diluted by mediocrity and my over caffeinated enthusiasm.
Photography is real life, real scenes, real landscapes, so inevitably there are going to be real flaws. Of course you can photoshop the imperfections but its never quite the same as if you captured it through the lens. The Tell-Tale Heart will forever beat.
Even some of my best landscape photos leave me wondering, what if I went out with a different lens, during a different season, viewed in different light, could the image be better? It's an endless pursuit of perfection. It keeps me continuously hunting for my white whale: 'The Perfect Photograph'. I only truly publish and share the absolute best of my best. Or at least try to. Every time I go out on a shoot, a scavenger hunt to find more photos, I'm lucky if I capture a few that I'll be willing to share with the world. In a way, it's Darwinism at its finest. Only the strongest survive.
Photography is art. Art is individualistic. Individuals are opinionated. It's amazing to me which landscape photos people tell me they like the most, their favorites. All different. All for different reasons. Ironically, usually none of which coincide with my personal favorites. It used to bother me that maybe I wasn't expressing my art and by default myself. But now I just smile and appreciate the comments.
It isn't about the opinions or the comments or even the compliments, although they are nice. Not to sound cliche stating that it's the drive not the destination, but for me, it really is about the photography. This is my escape. My relief from the stress of life. It's an amazingly pleasant thought when I get home, download the images and none turned out how I liked. Frustrated for a brief moment, I stop and smile.
The time I spend preparing, checking weather reports, clearing my schedule, planning, driving, hiking, scouting, setting up, waiting, waiting, waiting for the perfect light, perfect surroundings, the perfect moment. Hopefully capturing a divine creation, a majestic scene. Time well spent with my wife and our dog as they accompany me on the journey. That is What Really Matters. Besides, there will be another sunset tomorrow.