Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holding Back

When I first started this blog, very few people I knew in “real” life were aware I had a one. It was that way when I first logged onto Facebook too. I even went as far as to use a new email address for my Facebook account, making it more difficult for people to find me. My anonymity did not last long and soon a lot of my “friends” on Facebook were people I knew both personally and professionally. I am enjoying this, but as a result, more people I know in the real world now know about this blog.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Lately when I sit down to write a blog post I start thinking about who might read it and what they will think of me when they do. Who are these people I am afraid of? Some of them are other local photographers and artists. While I may be a bit intimidated, (which is mostly about me, not them), these are all people I respect and admire.

So why do I want to hide? One concern is I fear I am not qualified enough to share what I know in such a public forum. I also feel a little shy about promoting myself and my work here, on my website or in my newsletters (the fact that I even have a newsletter feels a little funny.)

Where does this come from? Part of it has to do with my qualifications. I don’t have a degree in photography (or anything else for that matter, but I did go to school to become an accountant). My understanding of the technical side of photography is limited. On top of that, even though I hand-color, I am not a painter and I lack basic knowledge of color theory. I know there will be some that argue that I am placing too much importance on this, and I am always working to educate myself as much as possible, but I often wonder what a diploma would have done for my confidence.

As more people find out I have this blog, these insecurities have made writing more difficult. There is this little voice in the back of my head whispering “who are you to be talking about photography?” “You are no expert.” And on my darker days….. “you are just a bookkeeper, not an artist”. I have also started to feel a reluctance to talk about the business I have been building around my photography for the last 15 years.

All this self doubt has made it feel like I have been holding back a bit and I don’t want to do that anymore. The blogs I love to read are the ones where they share their knowledge, while also giving me a glimpse into their lives. It feels good to know I am not the only one struggling to feel confident enough to call themselves an artist, or that they too would like to make some money with their art but are afraid to admit it.

All I know is that I am passionate about what I do and I enjoy sharing that. I love connecting with people this way and I am so grateful for all of you that have left comments or sent emails with support and encouragement. I have received a lot of positive feedback about my work over the years and I am going to try to keep that front and center instead of opening the door wide and letting the critics invade my head. If anyone has some suggestions on how to do this, that does not involve years of therapy, I would love to hear from you!

Another option is to start a completely different blog and not tell anybody. For a moment, I seriously considered this…………………

Image Info - Lighthouse on Vancouver Island near Victoria. This was not hand-colored, but I had a blast working on it!


  1. You do know we all feel this, right?

    Self-doubt and fear hold us all back. Those of us who screw up our courage and get out there are the ones who will succeed.

    I think too many people have no idea how risky it is to create art and send it out to the world. Art is personal. Art is passionate. Of course our egos are wrapped up in it. When our work is rejected, we try again. That defines us as artists more than credentials, which I think are a little silly anyway. Do we really want "certified" artists in the world? I don't. I want brave, feeling, passionate people who are willing to share their work.

    Thanks for writing this. You are courageous.

  2. Yes- I feel this too.

    Act as if you don't feel insecure. Post as if you don't feel insecure. Write about your art as if you don't feel insecure.

    Even if you do feel insecure, no one will know. And eventually, you will be more secure in yourself.

    The desire to hide is your need to lessen your exposure. Just remember, you think more about yourself than anyone else in the world. The rest of us are spending all of our time thinking about our own insecurities. It's human nature.

    Just be who you are. It's good enough. In fact, it's brilliant.

    There- I just saved you years of therapy!

  3. I feel the same way - don't we all? Your work is gorgeous and I always enjoy my visits here, even though I don't comment. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you! I had a feeling I wasn't alone on this one, but I really appreciate all your comments and suggestions. It's just this sort of support that makes this whole blogosphere experience so wonderful!

  5. You are so funny. You have been my inspiration for years. I look forward to seeing you and get the encouraging kick in the A&#. Why are you so afraid to have your work critiqued? Sure, I am too, but without critique, we don't learn. I encourage it! You do some of the most beautiful work I've seen. You are unique and hard to match. We are all looking for more to learn. A college degree doesn't mean a thing when it comes to our own method of creation and the way to show what we saw when we saw it. Does that make sense? I know many people with college degrees in something that really isn't, nor does it come close to what they end up doing. I have always told my kids that you start in one direction to find the direction you find. I have taught myself, and squeezed peoples minds, like yours, to learn what I know. I thank you and so many others for there artistic talents to help me become what I am today. Oh...wait! I don't know what I'm doing, what am I going on about...Hmmmmmm, just kidding, you taught me to be self confident! Right! Yes! Love you! Can I say that?

  6. Oh, wow, do I go through this angst all the time. I have an irrelevant degree in political science from U.C. Davis and also a lifetime elementary teaching credential from the same place. I have barely used either of these degrees in my career. I learned photography through DOING it, through the school of hard knocks, and you have done exactly that, too. After decades of doing this, I finally have some self confidence, and of course, tons of great feedback. Believe in yourself; you are doing FANTASTIC FANTASTIC work and you are one of my heroes!

  7. Thank you!
    Bob - I guess I have to walk the talk - right? It's been a joy watching your confidence grow this year and I will continue to encourage you to get your work out there!
    Betty - I appreciate your honesty and encouragement as much today as I did when I was starting out. You are an amazing photographer and an extremely gifted teacher. Thank you again!

  8. Dianne,

    Thanks for this post. I see that everyone shares the self doubt and fear to some extent. In the times in my life that I've been most successful I was always sure that "the authorities" were going to show up and take it all away.

    No one is more of an expert on your perception and your expression than you are!

  9. I'm new to photography, new to your work, new to this blog. But the feelings you describe are not new to me.

    For the last four years I've been writing a blog that features contemporary fine craft. I have no background in art and no art education (my degree is in horticulture), yet to thousands of readers (including many high profile artists, art educators, gallery owners and collectors) I am viewed as an authority.

    I've struggled with that same voice in my head too. Me? An authority? Really? But...but...but...

    Really. I'm passionate about what I do and it shows; I spend hours researching fine craft every day; I have an aesthetic that appeals to a large group of people and my opinion in this arena is sought after and well respected.

    The moment I saw your work I was smitten - both as a budding photographer and as an online curator of fine craft. I knew I wanted to find out more about how you live your passion.

    Don't hold back. The world needs to hear more from people who are fearlessly forging their own path outside of the traditional routes (though I am not knocking a formal art education, just suggesting it isn't the only way), following their bliss, sharing their gifts with the larger world.

    Forget we are watching - carry on with your art and your writing. And thank you - your poetic images and down-to-earth sharing are fuel for our collective creative fire.

  10. Katherine & Susan, thank so much for your thoughtful comments and for sharing your own experiences.
    Susan - thank you for your kind words about my work. I really appreciate it. I love that you wrote "forget we are watching". I will do my best...........

  11. Dianne,

    I think you're voicing a common human emotion. Having gone to school for art degrees hasn't allowed me to escape the same voices you talk about. In fact, sometimes I feel that people who didn't have a formal education in art have an advantage because they don't have the detritus that formal training brings with it. Either side you're on, the grass probably looks greener on the other side! All of that said, I think what fuels a good blog is the ability to speak with conviction about those things you love and can't imagine not being able to speak, photograph, paint or collage about.
    Your post on Second Saturday already convinced of your passion and enthusiasm, as did my visit to your studio. Kudos to you for speaking up.

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this, Dianne! It really does take courage to tell the truth! Obviously, you're not alone - and it was great to read about other people telling their truth, too!