Me. Happily in Suck-Mode in Kenya. Man I miss Africa! The image has nothing whatsoever to do with the post so don’t go looking for deeper meanings. Sometimes a photograph is just filler, ya know?
During the Q&A time at Amazon the other day a guy in the audience asked me a question. It must have been very complicated because I’ve completely forgotten the specifics. What I can’t forget is how he prefaced the question. He began by telling me he was an amateur and “still in suck-mode.”
Made me laugh.
But as we used to say in the comedy world, it’s funny ’cause it’s true. Suck-Mode. Baby, we’re all still in suck-mode and here’s why.
1. Your vision or intention for your images is fired by your imagination and your emotions. It’s also fueled by expectations and the desire to express yourself better than you currently do. The fact that so many talented photographers out there shoot such beautiful work in their sleep doesn’t help.
2. The technology with which we collaborate to create our photographs is always changing, always has a learning curve attached to it for which few of us have the time to to tackle, AND is profoundly limited to begin with. That’s what makes it so much fun. But what we want from our images is often several steps ahead of either the limits of our gear or the limits of our craft.
And so we often look at our own work and see it through the “this all sucks” filter. Doesn’t help that we compare ourselves to others who in turn seem to be comparing themselves to us. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t exclude the need or ability to still love our work or be confident in its creation. In comedy we used to say that “everyone needs a place to suck.” It gave us the freedom to try, to risk, to fail without repercussions. We ALL need a place to suck. It’s from that place that I suspect our best work can eventually grow.
As I said, you can still love your work, can still be confident that you are growing as a craftsman and an artist. But the place of humility that you need to acknowledge the Suck Mode to begin with can be a powerful ally in creation. Embrace it. We all suck. Now go take some risks, cause hey, if it’s going to suck anyways, what do you have to lose by trying harder, taking risks, and throwing caution to the wind? It’s when you think your work is hot sh*t, as they say, that you risk plateauing. And also people stop wanting to play with you. Embrace sucking, you’ll feel better about yourself and your work, and ironically, your work will probably suck less. That’s my hope, anyways 🙂
As an aside, I got in trouble when I was a child for saying something “sucked.” Hopefully the expression now holds a more accepted, less crude, meaning for most people that it will not offend. If it does, suck it up and refrain from leaving a comment. My mother’s got your back and I’m probably already grounded without dinner.