Today I submitted photos to the Iowa State Fair Salon. I was going to let it pass quietly because I was lacking confidence in my chances of any of the photos actually making it through. Then I remembered my whole reason for entering in the first place was not so much about winning a spot in the show but to learn and develop confidence in my work.
It is my hope to one day run a successful photography business. I have no idea right now what that will look like or exactly how it’s all going to come together but I know that in order to get there I have a lot of work to do. Starting a business is terrifying to me because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing but far more daunting is the idea that others will appreciate my work and find value in it. Much like the idea that you cannot expect others to love you if you do not love yourself, how can I possibly expect others to love my work if I lack confidence in it?
After I dropped the photos off and collected my receipt I walked to my Jeep and felt the sting of a much harder lesson. My lack of confidence was not so much about the photos I submitted but more about the one I did not. It’s ironic how much we allow the negative voices in our heads to detour our confidence but when it comes to actually finding and sharing our true voice we so easily ignore it. I have been drawn to the photo above since I first captured it earlier this year. It isn’t anything I can explain except that it pulls me in and makes me wonder at it’s charm. I had included it in my initial selections but then decided against it, then changed my mind, then changed my mind back. My final decision was made based on the fact that I had another photo of a tree that others reacted to more positively. Instead of letting my voice be heard, I let doubt steer my course. I love and appreciate the feedback I get from the people I trust and care about but I also need to learn to take my own advice and start listening to my own heart.
It is highly possible that none of the photos I submitted will make it through but the truth is, what I have learned through the process is priceless. Trust yourself. Believe in your work. Use your mind but listen to your heart.