We can all relate to the cringe we feel when we look at our old photos, be it from our childhood or our art. There is something that all artists I know encounter at least a handfull of times a month. Easily! Including myself, until not so very long.
For this weeks monday-inspirational-blog I wanted to talk a little bit about this as since a short time I'm trying to embrace the awkwardness that I feel when I look at my old(er) work ... It usually made me cringe. A lot. I could see all the flaws, aesthetically and artistically wise. I've often been thinking to remove all of my old work, especially from the time I still did location. But why do we feel like this? In the end, I may not like it as much anymore: I used to be very proud of it & it still has brought me all this way to my current freelancing career! So is it really that bad? Why do we feel so bad and ashamed of what we used to do as artists?
This question came to my mind when Facebook showed me a post I made a year ago in my memories that showed of nine pieces of my recent work (collection below) where I was incredibly proud showing of what I made in just three months (in my one-tiny-room-studio-and-living-space!) and I was curious to see what another three months would bring. A year later, I've settled into my own full-time photography business with a constant growth.
Pretty insane. And for the first time, I didn't feel any cringe looking at what I created. And it made me realise something very important: I accepted that growing comes with a sacrifice, when our minds and artistic souls evolve; we cannot look back at our older work because we can only see the limits of what we didn't achieve and we don't look at it from a point of view that we - back then - created something that filled our hearts with creative joy and/or we followed the urge to create something.
If you still create at this point as well like I am, despite the negativity you associate with the results, it's a constant growing process and it's a beautiful thing on its own that instead of pushing away and associate with negativity when we look back, it's much more rewarding to look at it from a rational and educational point of view. Looking back at what you made back then, compared to what you do now, is one of the most educational things I've ever learned in these years. I can see where I improved, but at the same time I can also see what happened and the things I've lost. Changing comes always with a price and while changing is also good: sometimes you're so focussed on how to improve that you lose something else.
In the end I think the most important thing is to let go of what we feel when looking at our work that fuels us with negativity, dread & cringe but look at it from a point of view that fuels us with motivation and inspiration. And most of all: Acceptence.
Accept the change and make it something to be proud of. Not something to dread. Even if that includes your "baby-artist-years" and you loved sepia and heavy vignetting like I did. We all make mistakes, don't let it rule your present art.