The Benefits of a Closed Door...
It's very easy to get complacent in your photography if you do not have the motivation to really push yourself constantly, to sit back on your laurels and just sort of circulate in a holding pattern, especially if you have had a little success in your work....I know this from first hand experience!! Having stumbled into photography as a passing interest to serve as an additional creative outlet to the other works I was doing, I perhaps did not have have the initial drive to propel me forward, with a lot of early work being used to service the design and media company i was running at the time. In a way this gave me an easy route into the industry as my works were being delivered direct to my client base for a variety of uses, a client base that was already built and in place from my already established business.
The more time I spent with my camera the more I wanted to learn and develop my knowledge and experience, starting to take a more pivotal role in the work that i was doing and taking on. Relatively quickly I started to get myself established, having secured selected works in several local galleries, pop up exhibitions put on by myself and starting to sell a few pieces, including to international buyers. As a person new to the industry at the time, it was even more than I could have expected or asked for when starting on this journey, it's then that you are at risk of taking your foot off the gas, sitting back and basking in the limited success of your efforts to date.
One of the most significant things that has helped me immeasurably improve my photography and increase my drive to be a better photographer was upheaval, making me open my eyes to the fact that I had grown complacent and stale as an artist. Moving to the opposite end of the country impacted lots of different area's of my working life, the local client base that i had build up with my company was no longer there as a crutch for my growing artistic pursuits, and the more rural location in the North did not lend itself the design fueled, large town, business heavy pace of life i had become accustom to in the South......suddenly my business was not there!!
The flip side of this happening was a large re-assessment of where I was at and how I move forward, on the plus side, having a new & beautiful playground on my doorstep for my photography helped, attacking it with a renewed enthusiasm and hunger to learn more, to improve my craft, believe me it has made such a difference to the quality of my work and working practices. This renewed impetus set me upon a similar path to the well trodden one left behind, though with the journey being a lot tougher affair this time around. Having now found myself looking at a lot of closed doors, with people not returning emails whilst striving to gain exclusive access to places to get those unique photo opportunities, it would be very easy to get disheartened, to give up and return to being a hobbyist, but you need to use it as fuel.
This whole situation forced me to start at ground zero, to realize that no matter what success you may have had in one area does not give you a golden key to all area's. Now over time I have started to learn the rhythm and pace of this new area, attuning myself to what people / galleries are looking for in this particular region. It is not so much a case of abandoning what you have learned so far, but more a case of taking you own style and applying it to what is of interest to your chosen market or outlet, and the chances are that when you take those factors into consideration then you will still be offering your own distinct style but in a new way to what you are perhaps used to.
All in all it's about personal development of your art and how it is presented, and sometimes a situation comes along that really highlights this to you, yes the knock backs can be disheartening, but in reality it as a positive tool to improve and move forward, a lesson well learned.
Until next time....