In the seven years or so that I've been shooting and studying photography, I've noticed a recurring cycle of thought that happens with every endeavor. It goes something like this.
Go out to make some images, get very excited about what I'm capturing. The creative mojo is a-flowin.
Head home and begin the import process. Feel the excitement wane as I see how the images come up on the Mac vs how they looked on the camera display.
Begin culling. Ok, there's some workable stuff here.
Stop in my tracks when I see that ONE image which really stands out and think, "Wow that's my best photo yet! I'm awesome at this."
Begin post-production. Excitement back up. Mojo flowing again.
Bask in the satisfaction of a final image and the certainty I've done some good work. I'm improving, growing. Mission accomplished.
But then... a few days or weeks go by. Or maybe it's been months. Maybe I look back on that work and suddenly all excitement has abandoned me. My work is loathsome. It sucks. I look at it with disdain. I don't want to share it. How could I have thought this garbage was any good? What was I thinking? I have no business calling myself a photographer.
This self-deprecation goes on and on. Until the next shoot. Or maybe several shoots go by and I've captured nada. It's rough, but there's always a silver lining.
While there seems to be no escape from this cycle of thought, I've learned that sooner or later I will still get the next "best image" yet. Sometimes I have to dig for it. Other times it just comes along when I least expect it. The stars align. The angels sing. Then process starts all over again and I think, "Hey I'm not so bad after all. I've got this!"
I don't know why I think this way and it's absurd, but I can't be the only one. Which leads me to wonder... do all photographers experience this? Do others have to slog through hundreds of shitty photographs to find that one show stopper? Do others feel these same ups and downs? I sure hope so. Not because I'd wish this struggle on anyone, but at least I'd know it's not just me. ;)
If you can relate to this at all, welcome to the club. We don't have jackets but we're great at empathy and membership is free! Also a word of encouragement for you... don't beat yourself up too much. Hold on to that feeling of satisfaction and just keep shooting.
Here's to the next "best" photo.