Vulnerability / by Graham Dew

 Bean Frame

Bean Frame

In a popular TED Talk, Brené Brown talks about vulnerability as part of the creative process. I certainly felt vulnerable the other night as I completed my entry for the 2015 LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards.  Questions boiled up as I submitted the work. Is my work good enough? Have I selected the optimum group of pictures? Do they hang together as a narrative? Do they work together visually? Are they consistent from picture to picture yet showing sufficient range of subject and approach? Despite all the time spent taking, editing, revisiting and sequencing the pictures, the voice in my head answers ‘no’ to all of these questions. But you can’t let the work mould and fester unseen. If the pictures were worth taking in the first place then you need some feedback and critique. Preparing for an exhibition or a competition is one way of forcing yourself to look really critically at your own work. But actually getting your work out there in front of others is the moment of truth, when dislike, indifference or perhaps approval are responses that might await. I am under no illusions; I believe that the work needs to be seen, but there is so much good work around that my chances of success are vanishingly small. In fact, I had not planned to enter until I saw that the organisers were offering feedback, online, to all entrants, and had some examples given to previous entrants. It was this opportunity for unbiased critique that prompted me to enter. Without honest, open criticism you don’t know where you are. You are at sea without a compass bearing. It is so hard to get an honest critique, mainly because it is so hard to give. But here was an opportunity to put my work in front of knowledgeable experts who might give me that marker point. So I swallowed my pride, gathered the work together and submitted the work. And went to bed feeling very vulnerable.