“Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; it’s not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Making images started out for me as an almost exclusively solitary enterprise, yet almost as soon as I had made a few photos that felt “real” to me, I wanted to know if other people also could see something in them. Since my main goal in looking at the world through a camera is to leave behind some trace of my actual self, my wish for confirmation from others felt urgent. Fraught, you might even say. No matter how opaque, or amateurish, or ham-fisted my picture world appears, it remains the most real thing I am able to create.
I imagined encouragement or admiration, or response from others would guide me further along my road. I wanted to enjoy the pure pleasure of being seen as myself, through the lens I have turned on my own world. But pleasure and I are not such easy companions, and now I find that the more people I show these images to, the less seen I feel. As a personal matter, this isn’t such a tragedy, but as a matter of self-consciousness when I picked up my camera, it is at least as inhibiting as loneliness or disappointment – possibly even more so. Whatever it was I wanted from an audience, I don’t think I can get – at least not that way. Or to say it differently, I already have what I needed from the work itself. My personal need to be seen is a different problem altogether.
This realization complicates things. I may need to get back in the cocoon for awhile, spinning out pictures just for myself, repeating things, going over old territory – because my new eyes just aren’t ready yet.