And the Crowd Goes Wild

And the Crowd Goes Wild

The first time you picked up a camera and clicked the shutter and saw what you created and knew you were hooked, you also knew that you would have to tell your loved ones about your new passion, or at least eventually. For some people this is easy. It is like saying that you had pancakes for breakfast. The people around are fine with it, and it seems normal, like brushing your teeth. But for others the impact of saying such simple words is hard to live with.

I feel very fortunate for growing up in a house where creativity was not just encouraged but rewarded. I grew up writing magical stories and children’s books and poetry, and then when I “grew up” some more I went to college and studied filmmaking and literature, both completely scary degrees to have in the “real world” but they made me happy. In all of this time my parents never tried to persuade me otherwise. I heard the typical murmurings of how little money I’d be able to make with those degrees, but my mom would always respond by saying “Then you don’t know my girl…”, and so I felt validated.

When photography came into my life in a big way, I had a lot to consider. There were people telling me that it was unwise to jump so wholeheartedly into something as slippery as photography. They said I would never know where my paycheck would come from, and questioned me about specific money-making plots. I was both critical about that way of thinking but also practical, and for a time I answered all of those questions and did so with fervor until I realized that it was no one’s business but my own (literally). I owed nothing to anyone. It was of no one else’s concern where my paychecks would come from or how it would work, save for my husband who is a part of me.

It is so easy to get caught up in other people’s opinions. And depending on our lifestyles, we may never have lived outside that opinion bubble. I know that I was quite sheltered growing up, and that wasn’t because of my parents, it was because of me. I liked being sheltered and having the same people around me and being close to what I knew. My sister was the opposite, completely free-spirited and wild. Because I preferred living life that way back then, I only knew the opinions of those around me. I didn’t understand enough about life.

But when photography came around something shifted. I understood, almost instantly, what was at stake. It wasn’t that no one approved of my photography; on the contrary, they were very supportive. It was that, logistically, they were truly concerned for my well-being if I quit my steady job and went into…the arts. (said with suspenseful music in the background).

I suddenly had a passion so strong that doing anything but photography felt as though it would kill my spirit, and I value that above most else. So I did quit my job, and it took a lot of long conversations with those I cared about, and zero conversations with those who it wasn’t worth having.

When I began exploring different themes in my work, I would hear feedback about the content of my images. They are too dark. They are too creepy. There is too much nudity. This and that and no one could always be happy. But the thing is this: I was always happy. I was creating what I loved, which is no concern of anyone else. I think that we often forget that just because someone has an opinion, that opinion is not fact. It does not need to govern your life.

This can be exceptionally difficult when it comes to loved ones. For example, I met my husband when I was 16. We’ve been together ever since. He and I are joined in every way I can think of and when he has an opinion, I listen to it because I respect him. It can be difficult to understand when to take someone’s opinion to heart and I think one basic question needs to be asked: is your relationship worth sacrificing for the art? Some people are worth losing over this debate. That is plain and simple, and I don’t mean it in any negative way. There are people that bring us down in the world, people who we are better off without. We need not be friends with everyone, and it is best to surround yourself with those who will lift you up.

You are the only one in control of your happiness. If art makes you happy, you have a duty to perform. To keep that locked inside is a disservice to your well-being and to all of those who you might inspire. Art is rarely kept to oneself. These days it is shared, and because of that, inspiration is everywhere. Take what you love and share it. Others will love it simply because you do. And remember above all else that your opinion should be regarded at the highest level. It is not up to anyone else to inspire you, motivate you, encourage you, or support what you do; you need to believe in yourself first. And when you believe in yourself, others are sure to follow.




11 thoughts on “And the Crowd Goes Wild

  1. Dear Brooke,
    I can not thank you enough for this blog post. It is exactly what I needed to read right now and it feels as if a tremendous burden fell off my shoulders. Thank you.

    Love, Evelyne

  2. Having majored in Theatre and Film, I, like you, did what I felt I “had” to in order to be happy. Years later, my friends whispered how odd I was when I went to massage school. I’m the “odd duck”, no doubt.

    When I started doing photography, I started to be stressed from having to “perform”-to get the “likes”, to hear kudos, to make money. My husband luckily caught on to that and asked why I was even doing photography if I got stressed over it. Once we decided I should only do what I love and not care what others think, it felt as if a tremendous burden had been lifted.

  3. Very good post. I had a bit of a eureka moment while reading it. That is that I need to stop being so concerned about what my peers in this business think about my work. For that matter I also need to be a touch less critical of my work. A few images I’ve recently posted online had me so nervous due to the high bar set by some of our friends. I got some great feedback from non photographers but no “oh wow” from my peers. They were likely busy and maybe missed it. I tell myself that but I was still pretty stressed over it.
    Then during this read I realized that it doesn’t really matter what my photog friends think. They don’t pay the bills and the likelihood they would buy my work, even as a goodwill gesture, is slim. The feedback from potential customers DOES matter though. They DO pay the bills and have no idea what a blending brush is anyway. Haha.
    So thank you. I’ve been stuck and uninspired lately due to my lack of creating something as perfectly as I want in photoshop. I have some decent concepts from France that I’ve been scared to death to even touch. I think I’m over that now:)

  4. Thank you Brooke. I can totally identify with this and have struggled with my art in the past when people close to me have not “liked” it. I love your perspective – in the end it’s your opinion that matters the most.

  5. Spot on, hit my heart right away. I have been insecure about sharing my work online but I have recently started to come out of the bubble. Your words about that we should share what we love and others will love it too I will definitely take with me.

    I have told my family about my art and showed them. I haven’t yet shown my friends, but some of them has a vauge idea about what I do. I need to find some likeminded friends ;). A website that has my name as the “address” still freaks me out. Need to get over that, hopefully some day I will.

  6. Hi:-)

    Thanks for this post, extremely inspiring!
    In 2011, at 32 years old, I decided to give up my career in hotels (which I hated) and pursue photography. Having lived in the UK for 8 years, I packed my bags and moved to South Africa to study again. Its been extremely difficult, yet exciting! Having invested everything into my new career (as a freelancer no less) I am currently poorer, but happier, and that is ok!

    Through hard work and passion I am making progress and I often lose sight and feel that I might not be on the right track, but then I read an article like yours and that reassures me that I am not alone in this and i’m doing ok and am heading forward and up. I strongly believe in my work and apart from a few confidence issues that need sorting out, things are great! I started as a freelancer last year and have now been offered representation, which is a huge step for me a boost in my confidence and it is thanks to people like you and a few others out there that take the time to share and give back.

    Thank you:-)

    Sven Kristian

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