Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacence. – Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai (link contains semi-nudity)
It seems quite poignant that I had intended to write this particular blog post last week, but instead let frustration take hold of me in regards to both my life and my art. I’m still working through it; every time I emerge from the other side, I do so with a feeling of accomplishment and knowing that I’ve grown somehow.
We all feel frustration from time to time in regards to our art, be it that our equipment isn’t as good as we’d like or our little models wont stand still for long enough (see photos above!). We get frustrated that our photographs somehow aren’t good enough, we can’t figure out our style of shooting or editing.
It’s ok to feel this way, and it’s good too. The frustration is what pushes us to learn and grow, because we feel compelled to get past it. Some days I hate every photograph I’ve taken, other days I like the potential of a photograph I’ve taken but I just can’t seem to edit it the right way. The copy of Photoshop CS3 that I have on my Macbook gave up on me a few weeks ago and I was lost for a while. I’d been so set in my ways of using it that I didn’t really know what else to do, but I sat down and started to learn how to use Lightroom for more than just colour balance adjustments, something just clicked. I still haven’t even bothered to reinstall Photoshop. Not to say that I wont ever use it again, but I’m sure you get my point, the frustration caused by my lack of Photoshop encouraged me to learn something new that I may not have otherwise taken the time to do.
I’ve always felt, almost my whole life, like an artist without a medium. As though I have the desire to be creative but lack the ability to follow through. The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” springs to mind, as does this wonderful article from Sarah Wilson (via bunnables). It leads me to feel frustrated frequently but pushes me to try new things, not just in relation to photography, but everything else too.
There are a few different things that I do to help me work through frustration.
- If it is something that is within my control, I work through that in particular in a hyper-focused sort of manner until I feel more satisfied with the outcome. I spent a lot of time recently learning different editing techniques, going back to old photographs and re-editing them in different ways or forcing myself to take photographs under more challenging conditions and working through the editing process with each one.
- If the frustration is over something I can’t control, I find a way to work around it. If you are unable to do something because of your equipment for example, find out what you can do with it instead of focusing on what you can’t.
- Ask for advice. It doesn’t have to be from another photographer although that can help too. Sometimes just getting a different perspective can help you work through things. My husband is the master photographer in this house and although our styles are vastly different I often ask him for his advice.
- Read tutorials, guides and look at the work of others. Look at various photo challenges on blogs and try to take a photograph for them, even if you don’t actually enter the challenge the practice is always good.
- Do nothing. Put down your camera and go work on something else. Sometimes I feel as though I can work through the frustration by stopping and not letting it take over. Do something you enjoy, I’ll bake, go for a walk, play outside with Mikey, knit, read a book, whatever.
Do you often find yourself frustrated? What do you do that helps you work through it?