Being Remarkable and How to Get There

A lush valley between volcanic hills near the Viki crater in spectacular countryside near Myvatn Lake in Northern Iceland.

It is the responsibility of the artist to be remarkable. And that is as true for you as it is for me. It's important to ward off friends and colleagues who try to temper our endeavors and, ultimately, bring us down to their level. Why, are they jealous of our achievements? Does a part of them hanker for the life they think we live and the sense of freedom they feel is missing from their own lives?

Probably! But I also feel that their actions, which come largely from their subconscious, are motivated by fear. They love us and fear to lose us. And the fear of loss is a highly motivating and, ultimately, destructive emotion.

When it comes to evolution we can, like everything else, consider it from two distinctly different points of view. Will perfection be achieved by humanity warping into some kind of human/machine hybrid (e.g. the Borg) or through the giving and receiving of unconditional love? Which one, if granted to us all today, would allow us to solve many of the problems experienced across our planet?        

Now that's not to say that settling for second best may not only be acceptable, but desirable. The need to get work out in a timely manner is one of the major reasons why some very successful wedding photographers choose to make images with their camera set to JPEG. Are they potentially diminishing the final quality of their images? Absolutely! Does that mean that their customers will be disappointed by getting (hopefully) well made images from camera processed JPEG's soon after they return from their honeymoon? Absolutely not!

When running a business it's largely the customer's perceptions of product quality and service, rather than our own, that are of critical importance. Now that should be a lesson for the artist in us all. It should be no surprise that many talented photographers have struggled financially until they married and their partner brought the business acumen required to allow the photographer's own artistic endeavors to thrive within a successful commercial enterprise.

What about the world of social media? The frequency at which images on a busy blog are displayed and consumed makes it all but impossible to be able to post images that are absolutely, always the very best you can produce. Should that be a concern? Not at all, providing the maker and consumer of those images can separate a blog post from a fine print made for commercial purposes. One is an indication of what that photographer can produce. The other, a realization of that potential determined, in part, by the image quality, size and presentation. What's more by limiting the availability of the work, for example as a limited edition print, its perceived value may be elevated to a new level.

But how can the work we display via social media help our development as artists? By posting frequently we're able to experiment and test a range of techniques and styles and, by doing so, develop bodies of work that reflect our own unique identity and world view. And of course, social media allows us to find our customers and our niche within the larger marketplace.

Don't be overly concerned about perfection. By its very nature it is unattainable. It's important to strive for it, but not to let it become a barrier to image making. In other words just because you can't today, doesn't mean it should stop you from trying and learning from your mistakes. Therein lies the concept of constant improvement.

I'm reminded of that old saying,

"How do you eat an elephant. One bite at a time"

Visitors exploring an amazing space within the Louvre museum in Paris, France. This image explores light, tone and shape to help tell the story.

It's probably a hang over from my Catholic past, but part of me believes that suffering is often a part of the creative process. It makes us who we are and there's a certain satisfaction in finishing a project, particularly a hands-on one, through your own thoughts, efforts and sweat. But my up bringing also tells me to be humble about ones achievements and, without lingering, quietly move onto the next project.

Finally, while it's important to dream, it's critical to plan. Failing to plan is a sure way to excel in failure. And for those folks scared of failure I'd like to suggest that you simply begin. Nothing's written in stone and not all projects need to be completed. Just have a plan and be prepared to amend it as required. Seek advice and help, where appropriate, and just go about getting it done without telling the world what you're doing until you're finished and ready to launch. And don't let all this advice get in the way of just starting something. Come on, get cracking!

I wish you well on your own journey towards the making of remarkable art. Just don't let the quest for perfection stop you from doing, learning and improving. Its life, after all. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru