A long time ago, there was a boy with a curious mind almost in everything and that curiosity landed him in the world of photography. At first, he thought of it as nothing but to record memories. The memory that couldn’t experience twice but can still be remembered forever through a photo. Nothing more than that.
Then he saw a lot of things, from the world of the Internet, the majestic view created by photography. Then he realized photography is not just simply record his life. Ever since then, he no longer sees photography as a way to record memory but as a form of art. An art that requires skill and dedication.
He improves his photography better by the day until he’s better than many of his friends. But he saw a photo community and realized he’s no better than any of them. He improves his photography yet again until he’s better than most of the members. But he saw the Internet and realized he’s no better than any of them he saw. He then struggles again to improve his photography to more and more better than before.
The act of improving photography more than before. The change for the better. That is what the boy thought. You can call it evolving his photography. For the purpose to create one perfect photo, which he yet to achieve. For one simple reason, he has no idea what that “perfect photo” is.
And yet he keeps struggling to achieve it. Even if many have said his photos are good, it’s not enough for him. Even if people said his photos are amazing, it’s not enough for him. Even if they said that his photos couldn’t get any better than this, it’s not enough for him. The idea of stopping aiming higher mean that he couldn’t go up even further. And that is unacceptable to him.
So he climbs higher and higher without knowing how far he would go.
This is not a story of a photographer. This is a story of a person, dedicated to his craft. The struggle of people whose doing their best in doing something they love.
The Question of Progress
We go back to the questions asked in the first part of this article. How am I doing? How far it took to do something? Can I go even further?
If you think about it, a person with a dedication to one craft can’t truly answer those questions. The simple reason is that human can’t feel a complete satisfaction. Even if they satisfied, they will ask for more. But they can feel it is done and that is not good.
We assume progress is one straight line, from start to finish. But a finish line means it’s over. In photography (or any kind of things), a finish line means you stop progressing. And stop progressing will lead to stagnation. Stagnation will lead you a complete shutdown. And in the end, you’ll stop holding your camera.
So that is the meaning of “the question of progress.” In my opinion, just don’t ask for it. Just do it, look for what not good, and make it better. Don’t ask for “how am I doing?” or “Am I good enough?” There won’t be a satisfying answer.
But if you’re insist take a look back at your old photo, compare it with your latest, and look for differences. Then ask, “is it better than before?” I did something similar where I try to look back my one year change in photography.