Hiding your treasure.

Your vision of beauty is unique. It may be shared by many or none, but even when shared I suspect there is a shred of it that is unique to you alone.

We see a mountain, river, waterfall or sunset and many will see beauty, but the whole has parts and some will single out one or another part in preference to the rest of the scene while others want to capture the entire scene. I fall into the latter category.  If Only I had a wider angle lens, or if only that road or sign or building was not included when I mount the 14mm lens.

The colors and light are part of it and when we get home we process to our taste in such matters. We choose the lighter or darker exposure or we may try to blend them to open shadows or we may leave the shadows in silhouette.  This is how we see it or what we want it to look like. We are expressing our personal vision.

But some scenes that we think gorgeous are not so to other people and possible nobody. Or they have seen it too many times.  They find it boring. Then photographers try to shoot the scene from a new angle, or in new light, or with some processing trick that makes their version unique.

The more you succeed in expressing your vision, the more risk there is when showing it. The ones you doubt, that you think have something else to be uncovered are safe to show for critique. But the ones you feel are finished and that are complete and meet your objectives are not safe to show.

This goes back to the old proverb that the first liar does not have a chance. That’s because he has presented his best story and the next can always come up with something better. If you present an image, it can be critiqued and will. In fact it’s expected.

So you only show those that you are not emotionally committed too.  You show those that matter little if they are panned or praised.  But you must hide your treasures lest you come to doubt your own judgment. Because you’re personal judgment is the thing that is at stake here.  You are essentially asking if your judgment is universal in an endeavor where there is no universal.

In this age of group think and communal philosophies, guarding your individualism is essential.  If you are truly strong then outside opinion will not faze you. But even then it is pointless to ask what others think when you already know what you yourself feel about something.

It’s not so much being closed minded. Art is subjective and ought to be. This is not a case of public good where we need a consensus. It’s about who you are.  You can’t let other people define who you are.

I think this is the reason we see so many photographers showing pointless subjects. It’s not boredom as I long suspected, although boredom plays a part. It’s because anyone who has had their vision of beauty mocked eventually figures out that they must protect it by not showing it.

I have even heard this about famous photographers that is that you have one set of work in which your goal is popularity so you work to get that.  You have another set of work that is personal and only intended to please yourself. This you must hide. You only have two possible results by showing it.

One result is to remain a hidebound iconoclast forever showing work that violates the same popular opinions over and over. Or you will eventually be worn down to an automaton whose personal judgment has been replaced by group judgment.

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