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You got your first real camera. It was love at first click! Every picture you made was a masterwork. You didn't mind that some of them were soft, you cut off a lot of heads, and you posed the family christmas picture in front of a public restroom. Your friends ahb family were polite, but not encouraging. You had an audience of 1.
You persevered. You got better. Slowly, people actually started to compliment your work. Life was good.
Then, in a moment when your guard was down, you noticed that a lot of your pictures looked similar. You were taking the same picture over and over again. Your admirers didn't mind. THey had bigger things to occupy their attention. But you were in a rut.
You tried some new directions, and got excited about your work again. You showed it to some people whose opinion you respected, and got polite compliments, but little encouragement. Your aesthetic advanced beyond your audience. You were working again for an audience of 1.
The dilemma- You could retreat to your previous formula of image making, and look for personal fulfillment in golf, or guitar lessons. Or, you could come to terms with the the fact that most people won't appreciate your new vision of the world,- and keep making pictures that thrill you, exclusively.
If you have any thoughts on the matter, I'd love to hear from you.
In photography, it really doesn't take a lot to go from having no clue at all to a photo that should be on a wall and that no one, not even your rude uncle George, will make fun of. Then it gets hard, but here is where things change. As your skill progress, you are are not compared to everyone else, but the masters. "I've seen better in National Geographic than that".
Skill and praise is not a steady curve, but something that goes up and down in waves.