On preparations and being done

In Inspiration

“Are you ready?” they kept on asking.

I was getting a big set of images ready to be submitted to a panel – hoping my photos, my photography, my long, hard work, and what really felt like a good chunk of me would be accepted by these strangers. I had gone over and over my set of 100. I had tweaked and retweaked the edits on this old image, that one that didn’t quite flow right. I had reorganized the set trying to get it all to read just perfectly. You get the drift – over and over, fidgeting and fussing, just continually making the most minute changes with the dang thing.

I had set myself a deadline of the end of January (last year). I had been working through the images with a group of friends, and the question kept coming up, “Are you ready?”

I filled out the appropriate forms and hit submit about two weeks before my self-imposed deadline. I didn’t do it because I was ready. I could have kept re-looking at the set, second guessing my choices of images or order or edit perpetually. But, when I got to that particular point, I knew that the more I kept at this futzing, the less I would actually get accomplished and I just needed to be done with it. To this day I don’t think that either I or my set were ready, but we were both done.

I learned something about myself through that process – something that had been true for years, I just hadn’t had the opportunity to notice it. It’s that old saying popularized by Voltaire, “perfect is the enemy of good.” Though I feel like I used to edge toward perfectionist tendencies, I am absolutely someone who gets to a certain point in a process where my product is good. It is good by my own standards, and absolutely good enough by the standards of others. I could keep on tweaking, but being caught and stuck in that never ending circle chasing perfection isn’t going to really get me any farther than where I have already found myself.

How about you? Do you find yourself waiting until something is up to your own standards? Are you driven more by deadlines or maybe others’ expectations of you? Do you find someplace in your life that you’re able to free yourself of that? I have to admit, being done rather than ready is something that has really allowed me to continue moving forward not only in my photography but in a lot of other areas of my life.

All the best,
Alison

9 Comments

  1. oh, Alison…congratulations!!!! well-deserved and so proud of you.
    {that first image takes my breath away}

    and this process you write about…the tweaking and going back and deciding when done (enough)…such a good conversation. not easy…I struggle with this myself.
    I appreciate this share so much.

    and again…hooray for you!!!!

    • Thank you so much, Michelle 😀 It’s a tricky balance, I think. The more I tend toward done, though, the saner I think I feel – ha!

    • Thanks 🙂 It’s that satisfaction of crossing something off of the list (totally guilty of adding things I’ve done anyway – ha!)

  2. Absolutely, yes, to all of the above. I need to remind myself to “leap before I’m ready” constantly.
    But looking at these images, I can’t believe there’d be much to gain from your incremental tweaking.

  3. Your images are beautiful! I tell myself repeatedly that I need to get my photos in order; cull my favorites, submit to a show, make a book. I definitely need a deadline to motivate me as it’s so easy to move self-imposed goals far into the future.

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