Forget your best ones.

An advice I gave to a photography beginner…

I had a tea with this girl — she just started doing photography, but was thinking of pursuing it seriously. My friend introduced her saying, “she adores you like Tibetan monks adore Buddha.” Ok, this is new. But such misunderstanding can happen if you are good at something. So for a moment there – I was a Buddha of photography.

There is really no proper photo to illustrate this story, so here is this one. ©︎ Tim Gallo.

She was showing me her “best ones,” “keepers” as some people who pretend they know anything about photography use to say. She was throwing some hear-say photography wisdom at me and politely bragged about the number of likes she was getting. She had more followers and likes than me, btw.

Pictures were beautiful, but just that. I already saw them produced by thousands of other photographers. They were hollow to me. Like chocolate bears that makes you sad once you bite them…

So I took a deep breath and painfully took off the mask of my ego (that really wanted to look like Buddha of photography and please her) and poured in her some bitter medicine — as honest of advice I could give.

Forget your best ones.

Embrace your disappointment. Go with your “average” ones, but make thousands of them.

And dance on top of photography Buddha you imagine me to be. Cause there will be a point when average becomes your actual best. Dance like Kali dances on the body of Shiva. Real and honest is not always likable at first. Dance on bodies of all the masters. Only then can you be a master of your own photography.

What I actually said was:

Who said that pictures should be sharp? Who said that they should be colored like that? Who cares about orange and till? Who cares if somebody liked them or not? 10k followers, so what? Half of the time, people like something cause the already seen it and know it. I’ve seen this already somewhere, and you already saw it somewhere. So what’s the point of it? Why does it matter to you?

Do you speak to please someone or do you speak to tell the truth? Do you speak honestly? Do you speak your language? Do you speak to tell the story? Where is your voice in it? Are you following your own nature, or are you trying to be someone else?

It’s better to be bad at doing you, then good at imitating someone else.

She was shocked, eyes peeled to her cup of coffee. This was not what she expected. But I could not lie to her. Her pictures were good — they were just not speaking for her. And thus they were not conveying anything. And everybody knows — the more you lie, the harder it becomes to tell your own truth.

So start now. Why should you care if anyone like your pictures or not? Why should you care if I like them or not? There will always be someone who cherishes what you do and those who don’t. Is it not better to find few who like your own honest work instead of having thousands that praise you for something they already saw elsewhere.

Look again, intently at what you afraid of showing? Look intently at what aligns with your own heart. And go with it… just forget your best ones.

And, maybe, dance on body of this story also…

Based in Tokyo Japan, I work as celebrity portrait photographer. Sometimes Movie Director. Occasionally poet. I apologise for not perfect english. timgallo.com

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