Letting Go of my Fears

by Quiana Jackson

Every since I started on my photography journey I have been too afraid to show my work because I thought that I was never as great of a photographer as I thought I could be. I would research tons and tons of photographers and compare my work and notice that I have yet to even compare. I would even compare myself to friends because I simply felt…not good enough.

As a military spouse I frequently move with my husband every few years. I was grounded at a school that I loved (Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham) when I moved and I would keep in contact with my friends over social media. It hurt leaving the comfort of my supporters and great instructors. Once I arrived in Hawaii I transferred to AI-Pittsburgh Online and started over again. I worked my behind off in the class and then I started to learn my style. I hate to say it but depression gave me the motivation and the skills to try something new with the medium.

During this time my work was so dark! I mean I could hardly tell that it was coming from me. I received praises for going for something new and was encouraged to keep taking the back seat and let the photographs create themselves. I would wake up out of my sleep and immediately write down ideas that turned to concepts. I would be energetic and alive when I picked up my camera. Finally I was beginning to be that photographer that I compared myself to. Not the pros…but my friends.

So someone told me about Raw Artist. That name sounded familiar and I couldn’t remember from where. But then I remembered that my friends from AI-Raleigh Durham were all having group shows (yes I was jealous). Now here was little old me getting the chance to show my dark work to the world. But it was dark work that I was proud of. I signed up, got selected and the day came to where I was showing my images in a group exhibition.

As we all hung our photographs up on the walls I was embarrassed because I purchased the cheapest frames! There was an ugly glare off the glass. I think one fell off the wall and didn’t break because it was plastic. Actually they were the poster frames from Walmart and they were $3.77 so that was a deal to me. But I must say that once I got to the show, looked around and observed I felt like I belonged amongst other artists. That day I met some of the best people of my life, sold every single photo, made over $800, got commissioned work, and won photographer of the year, nothing can beat that.

I faced my fear. I am very shy, sometimes I think that I am a comedian, I suffer from extreme photography block whereas I don’t want to pick up my camera for months at a time, but of all those FEAR will take the best of me. The Raw community worked well with me. They knew that I was nervous and the day of the show the MC came to my section and interviewed me over the microphone. My voice was shaky, my knees were shaky and I stuttered. Immediately I composed myself and began to explain my photos. It was important for me to believe in my work and be able to speak about it. I wanted to be respected as a photographer, a professional photographer but undergraduate didn’t prepare me for presenting my photographs in an exhibit with hundreds of people staring at me.

My point is, as photographers, we need to be able to be confident in our work. We need to be able to speak about our work, take criticism either good or bad and believe in ourselves.  We can be our biggest critics. Fear can only aid to that but once we get the confidence and stand high, fear has no chance.