I hate my work !
I know, I know, that is a strong statement. It also happens to be true, but allow me to explain. Up in the dark recesses of my over active mind there lurks my worst enemy - myself. That self sees work by others and compares me to them, that self is a complete perfectionist and every shot taken has to exactly manage the image in my brain, it doesn't accept that something is unattainable and pursues it with a vengeance.
Sometimes that mind can be open enough and work just flows, knowing the shot is nailed for a client, where we have discussed what we are going to do or simply nothing was planned and an image was produced on the spot. Client shoots in that respect are always easy, images are reviewed in camera or on screen and heads nod around, everyone happy.
On my own though, there are those times that a very particular image is in my head and I don't see it in camera, never mind that the shots are good, even great, they get bypassed in the frustration of not delivering on my own vision. At those times the card might remain in the camera and not be offloaded right away, even if it does, a cursory glance through and I walk away demoralized. A day or two later I can revisit, still distraught at not finding "the image" until my inner self lets go a little and starts looking with fresher eyes and attitude.."Hey, that one is not bad", "Hmmm...not what I was expecting but this one is good" through to "Oooohhh..THIS one", a shot I bypassed at the time, but seeing with a different pair of glasses suddenly jumps out, stepping back and seeing the bigger picture.
When we were in Chicago a couple of weeks ago I stood in front of a very large print of Richard Avedon's "Dovima with Elephants", taken in 1955 for Christian Dior. To stand there in front of this work was a humbling and inspiring experience, to study the detail, the perfection of the restless elephants with the calming elegance of Dovima, in her time the top "mannequin" as models were called before the term supermodel was invented. It was to stand in front of true greatness.
Go on, click on it...look at it, it is beautiful, immaculate work, one of the iconic fashion photographs of the last century in anyone's book. Except Avedon's, he hated it - "The sash isn't right. It should have echoed the outside leg of the elephant to Dovima's right.". Consequently it did not appear in any of the biographies of his work.
I cannot express how reading that quote made me feel about my own work, that someone as great as Richard Avedon is uncomfortable with what is recognized as being one of his greatest works has enabled me to step back a little and be kinder of my own work, to trust voices other than my own. To listen to people whose opinions I trust, and mentors of what is good and what is not good. To actively seek out those people, encourage and nurture those relationships in order to believe in myself.