So now I am back in London…..with a box of prints and a stomach full of nerves. While I was in the US, I had thoughts that maybe I didn’t even need to come back, because I had already learned what I needed to learn.
I learned how to photograph with a medium format camera, I learned how to tackle a big project, I learned how to put myself out there, I learned how to make mistakes and fix them….so why should I come back to London where it is so expensive and far away from my loved ones.
But to be honest, I was not looking forward to sitting down and showing my work. I was dreading it. I was insecure that my work wasn’t good enough. That my portrayal of a small American town would be insignificant and dull next to my classmates’ worldly adventures and documentation of major current events. I would try to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think, this is the type of work that interests me, so that is the most important thing……but still the nerves twitched. So I knew that this was yet another lesson that I needed to face and learn….
I was happy and relieved when my first tutorial with Oliver went well. He was complimentary; he said I had some good images and that I had mastered medium format…..(which means I did a really good job editing and he didn’t see the mountains of out of focus or flared images). So that day I felt good…..but then we had our group presentation…..and now, in our third term, I know how this goes, and I know what to expect….
It means, a long day of seeing other people’s work, which is good…..but because there are so many people in the class, it is kind of pointless as far as getting feedback from the other students or our tutor, who may or may not be paying attention, and therefore it generally leaves me feeling pretty unsatisfied and frustrated…..and this term was just the same…..maybe even worse, because I am much more fragile and desperately craving feedback.
I don’t need someone to tell me everything is good and I am the best photographer in the world, I need someone to be thoughtful and look at the images and make critiques and tell me their honest opinion….it is called constructive criticism. In my opinion, that has been a huge gaping hole in this program.
So after the group presentation, the confidence roller coaster dipped down again….until I had a great meeting with Homer Sykes. Luckily the person who signed up after me didn’t show up, so I got a longer time with him than the meager 30 minutes allotted and during that time he filled me with hope again. Homer told me the things that didn’t work, but then we looked through other photos that I had not selected. The process was so helpful and when it was over I actually smiled, which he was relieved to finally see.
Homer chose this one from my pile of extras……and because he was choosing more of my atmospheric photos, it sent me back to my original files to search for others that I may have skipped in my initial edits, and I found this one of the fire house, it makes me smile too……
And the roller coaster goes up again.
About the author paige green
Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.
My Brain On War… (And FREE Photo Shoot for those who match my donation to relief efforts in Ukraine)
When the World Feels Upside Down… Together We Can (plus: bonus photo of me in middle school)
Headshots for Women’s Rights
I love “education is the key to safety”- you couldn’t have found a better picture for you entry. What kind of safety have we acquired through this year? hmmmmmmmmm I am thinking….
Very good sum up of how I felt and still feel about my project, thank you for putting it in words.
Don’t be discouraged by lack of feedback. Just lead by example. It will come back to you. I can’t wait to give you the average Joe critique of all of your photos when you come back. Looking at your photos is one of my favorite things to do. Love you!