I’ve always stuggled with confidence in my own voice whether singing, writing or taking photos. There is so much already ‘out there’ on the infinitely accessible web it seems as though my voice is too small to be heard. In all that volume there must be someone out there with more important things to say than me and if there is I shouldn’t be saying anything.
In defence of myself and others like me, I now think that’s nonsense, as I’ll explain.
I read an article (in The Countryman of all things) in which a professional photographer waxed lyrical about the sheer volume of photography on the internet which is a direct consequence of the ease of access of the internet and the rise in affordable digital photographic equipment. I’ve noticed this volume first hand on Flickr. There are groups for specific types of photography such as ‘flowers’ which are posted to by hundreds of people world wide every day. That is a lot of photographs and I must admit I find it very daunting. My one little picture of a primrose (of which I am very proud) has been lost a day later under the weight of new entries.
The gist of the article as I understand it is that to get noticed (and rise above the crowd of equally amazing macro shots of exotic petal edges or whatever) you have to take photographs with impact, relevance and purpose. In other words your pictures (singing or writing projects) have to tell a story that stops people in their tracks. I find this concept incredibly daunting. In order to have a voice that is heard (assuming you don’t write or photograph for your own amusment or simply to pass the time) you have to be better than everyone else at finding the right shot, subject, turn of phrase at the right time and then publish first.
Inside all of us is a wish, not to be better than everyone else, but to be valued and listened to. Perhaps we believe that maybe just one person will read what you’ve written or see what you photographed and regardless of what they took from it, it will change their life.
There will be many people out there who would read that article and not worry whether the internet is overloaded by confident people shouting their opinions and so perhaps they shouldn’t overload it any further. They won’t worry that there might not be any small arenas anymore where tiny lights can shine. Are they the ones overloading the internet in the first place? Why should we who care shy away from having our voice ‘out there’? Are we afraid that actually the internet is being overloaded by those people that seem to need their voice ‘out there’ as a boost to confidence?
Perhaps there are three types of people: 1] people with something to say who are confident in their forum choice, 2] people with something to say who feel daunted in their forum choice, and 3] people who want to be heard before they have something to say.
I feel an affinity with people of type 2 but as this journal is witness I no longer feel as daunted as I once did.
So I now present the opinion:
If you’re worried about it, you probably shouldn’t and if you’re not worried you possibly should be.
People who think long and hard about their views and whether or not they should voice their opinion may be more infomative, rational and full of sense than someone who hasn’t wondered whether there’s already a lot of ‘guff’ on the internet and if they should be adding to it.
There’s always the option of local gatherings, small clubs or writing groups and if you do find them full of ‘guff’ at least you’ve had the chance to get out and meet new people!