When I started writing about Photoshop, it was with the intent to teach the material as you might teach science – by breaking down concepts into pieces that are easy to understand, but more importantly that can be put together in new ways. Such an approach also requires giving people hints about things they can do with the knowledge and demonstrating the diversity available from using the same tools in different ways. Something to spark the imagination, right?
That’s where I keep feeling limited. The audience I write for tends to be aggressive about learning, and already very creative. In order to keep up, to keep people’s attention, I am constantly looking for attractive visuals and ‘aspirational’ works – images that make people want to aspire to a new level of quality or impact.
And that’s stressful.
Owing to the nature of how I teach, I often use stock images. Part of the reason is that I need to show techniques and effects on a range of images that I don’t typically shoot, images and subjects that will resonate with a broader spectrum of artists. In many cases, I simply don’t have the time or opportunity, but let’s be honest – I’m not a great photographer. I mean, I’m good and I can keep up with lots of different styles and genres. But good is not great, and since I also lean more towards the technical execution, I don’t really take time to set up awesome fantasy portraits, nor do I travel to exotic locations or set up complicated studio elements.
If you’re familiar with Imposter Syndrome, you know where I’m going with this post.
Often I’m left feeling like a fraud or a cheat because I rely so heavily on other people’s work. But then the purpose of my work isn’t to show off my artistic ability – it’s to help you unleash yours.
And that helps more than you might expect. It alleviates the feeling that I’m not really adding any value, and instead helps me focus on the techniques and tools themselves. It also helps when someone shows me their own work that builds on or employs something I’ve taught, or how they used a piece from my books or a lecture to solve a problem. But one of the biggest boosts I experience is when someone tells me I’ve made the material interesting for them.
This is incredibly valuable! If you aren’t interested, you’re not going to put energy into your work or your art. When the tools are difficult, it robs most of us of that interest, and we see every task as drudgery. Even when I’m writing, I feel uninterested at times and so I’ll sneak out to the web to find out what people are talking or asking about. Seeing other people’s questions, struggles, and successes is something that keeps me interested.
And so… I write!