Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by keith_laban, May 16, 2004.

  1. Is the turmoil of self-doubt destructive to or essential for the
    creative process?
  2. This is a very good question. It's probably an individual process that originates with the pattern of reward or criticism that our parents or people around us exhibit. We pattern our behavior and what we need for the creative process (again, individual) with what gives us pleasure. Personally, I have thrived from other's perceived destructive photography, i have learned to not give a darn what other people think about my pictures. 33 years ago when I started, I did. I survived the 60's, drugs, rock and roll, even working for the wrong people! (Hustler Magazine for a long 3 weeks)! But in the end, you have only yourself and your gotta do what you gotta do!
  3. In one interview, street photographer Jeff Meremelstein said that he lacks confidence every time he puts a roll of film in a camera. Given the 'hit rate' of photographers, even pros, it's not unreasonable to feel that way, yes?
  4. Great question Keith! Here's what I think....

    Self -doubt provides the desire and the need necessary to take chances and
    be creative. If one's assuredness about one's work is unchallenged then no
    desire strong enough exists to prompt further creativity. I am of course
    assuming the creative process to be one of development and not one of
    production following a given model.

    I would suggest self-doubt to be destructive when one allows it to censor the
    work, meaning altering or adding or omitting something to suit a need
    prescribed by someone or something other than the creator herself.
  5. for one to feel satisfied completely with ones work would be the kiss of death....
  6. Seems I agree with the above... But without opposing views, how will we drag this debate on and on and on...? :)
  7. Keith Laban Photography
    I intentionally used the word "turmoil" here to differentiate between the inevitable questioning that I guess is a part of any creative process and that we are probably all party to and the more intense inner struggle that could be seen as a negative. A question of degree?
  8. I think it's important to have faith in one's abilities through thick and thin. You are going to have bad days and even bad years, but keep trying for the suprises, they are worth it and won't happen any other way.

    I feel sorriest for those who have achieved a modicum of commercial/critical success with this or that formula, which they then feel obligated to repeat ad nauseum.
  9. This is a good question but I have my doubts for an answer (pun intended). Self doubt can be either destructive or constructive. As for me, I always have self doubt with my photos (I'm my own worst critic) and other areas in life. I am an IT professional and have to take certification exams every couple of years to stay current - every exam I go to take, I am convinced that I will fail. Consequently, I tend to "over-prepare" for these exams (haven't failed one yet). This is the same with my photography - are my photos good? No - but they are getting better as I learn because I am never satisfied with them I always strive for a theoretical perfection. I can either give into the self-doubt and not take exams or shoot photos or use it as a vehicle for improvement.

    Basically, self doubt is a double-edged sword - you can use it to reach new heights or be paralized. I read a while back about a minor comedian that was in a show (don't remember his name). Before he went on, he had his usual self-doubts. On before him was Jerry Lewis, when Jerry Lewis finished his act and came off stage he went over to this comedian and asked "How was I, was I any good, did I wow the audience?" The comedian was surprised that Jerry Lewis was asking HIS opinion - it was then he realized that even top professional have thier doubts but they use it to their advantage.

    In essence, self-doubt is not the problem, it is how you react to it that matters. It is a good thing if it drives you to improve and experiment.
  10. I've always found that "angst" and "fear" are great motivators. Actually, Angst and Fear are my parole officers...Sorry, I can never resist a stupid joke.

    At any rate, too much self-doubt can cause paralysis and no output. However, I think always questioning (doubting) the quality of your own work will generally lead to a better result. Certainly, many notable artists have been racked with self-doubt...Pollack, Elsworth Kelly to name just two.
  11. Keith wrote
    Is the turmoil of self-doubt destructive to or essential for the creative process?
    Self-doubt is destructive to the person but challenging one's self is good.
    Self-doubt stems from a lack of security in one's self and is the product of low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is bad and is the leading cause of suicide. One needs to deal with the issues that creates this personal self-doubt to help them become emotionally stable or healthy.
    As to it being an essential part of the creative process? What that, to me is saying is, only those that are screwed up in the head can be creative and those that are stable, secure and without angst in their life will have problems with the creative process:) I don't think so. :)
    So, although self-doubt may lend itself to the creative process in that the insecurities and self-doubt will be borne out or reflected in the images created, it's not a necessary ingredient of the creative process.
  12. In theory the pathology of self-doubt need not accompany critical questions of one's work. However, in practice, who can sustain that pure distinction for expressive work?
  13. turmoil of self doubt = destructive

    capacity for self criticism = essential
  14. Thomas said it well.

    To ask myself how my work can be improved has nothing to do with self-doubt.

    Self-doubt is destructive because it does not add any quality.
    Destruction may be necesarry at times but self-doubt is not like a purifing fire, it is more like a sort of cancer, uncontrolable not distinguishing between the good and the bad.

    The best way I have found to >check< myself and the creative process is to get calm, detached and tranquil mixed with a good portion of serenity.
  15. "Self doubt is a disease of lesser men."

    Gen. Douglas MacAurthur.
  16. You think too much, keith kaban;)
  17. .....and judging by your spelling of the name "keith kaban" you think too little Allen Herbert ;-)
  18. I guess is up to the person and how the self-doubt is used: can be a protective mechanism or as a distance from ones work in order to self critic, among others.
  19. Kaban means swine or boar in Russian. Somehow I'm sure Allen knew :)

    And Keith; you've asked a question, but not offered your own perpective. Don't be shy; it's your thread.
  20. …..and I believe laban means freedom fighter or street fighter in the Philippines. Here in the UK a Bee is just an irritating insect and Flowers are very pretty but don’t last very long. Don’t take the piss out of someone’s name unless your own is beyond reproach.
    Bee, this is not my thread, it’s my question. My perspective, well I’ve experienced the turmoil as an illustrator but not as a photographer and have to say that it was fcuking destructive, I wouldn’t recommend anyone goes there. A modicum of self-doubt or questioning is an aid to creativity, just don’t let it take over. How about your perspective Bee?
  21. I used to really believe that self-doubt was essential, but now I'm not so sure...

    Maybe the sensitive creative person is angst ridden as a result of the same sensitivity that allows them to be creative in the first place. Maybe the self-doubt is unavoidable, because it is caused by the discrepancy between what is imagined and what is realized, and if you're imagination is worth a damn, then you'll likely never see it 100% outside yourself, and so are you then a hack, or what, not to mention that now your real and unfiltered voice is trapped inside your corporeal prison (without which, ironically, the real and unfiltered voice could not possibly exist), and no one at all will ever hear you the way you sound to yourself, and is it because you're not all that great after all, or is that just the way it is, and either way it still sucks. Maybe the tortured artist character is projected by society, which society generally needs those with talent or will to have some tragic flaw, so that "Yeah, that guy can write/sing/draw/paint/hit home runs, but he's crazy/stupid/addicted." Maybe self-doubt is a check against grandiosity, because the creative person would rather be seen as sensitive and creative - instead of megalomaniacal - and then that self-consciousness could itself be a kind of self-doubt.

    I guess I really don't know. At least I'm pretty sure (that I guess I really don't know), anyway.
  22. Don't be so touchy, Keith; I merely translated a word someone else used. But since you bring up the term: one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.
  23. No Bee, you did not merely translate a word someone else used, you inferred that Allen was using Kaban as a derogatory comment. I’ve no idea if he was or not but would certainly give him the benefit of the doubt because I’m a trusting sort of fellow and because the K key is next to the L key ;-)<p>Are you now accusing me of being a terrorist?
  24. >> Are you now accusing me of being a terrorist? I wouldn't go quite that far. But you do come across as boorish today; more 'kaban' than 'laban', that is. Is everyone in your village this humor challenged or are you the odd one out? Sheesh.
  25. I never say anything about a person on the internet that I wouldn't say to their face. I suggest you do the same.
  26. Keith baby... I have said things to people's face I wouldn't think of putting on record on the internet.
  27. Check this one out and other thoughts about photography and philosophy, by photographer Boris Mikhailov
  28. I think turmoil is as essential to creativity as fire to cooking.

    This really is an excellent question, Keith !
  29. I think we are all being a bit touchy today. Comminication without facial's all to easy to be taken the wrong way. My spelling is pretty awful,
    dispite all the help from my friend Robert Applebury, (i do hope i've spelt his name right) who has given up in dispair.

    Self-doubt. Is it worth thinking just get on with what you are doing.
  30. On second thought I find that self-doubt is probably unavoidable for artists who have a lot of ego connected with their work.

    When photography is made for living as a service then it is just as good as any other work like cleaning a room or engineering a rocket.

    When photography is done for expression or for pleasure then photography will just reveal, to lesser or greater extent, what we are or where we are, speaking in terms consciousness.

    When I as a human live with the inner assurance that I am a part of the cosmic game (speaking atheistic) or a part of God (speaking theistic) then whatever reason should I have to doubt myself??

    Again, impoving work has nothing to do with doubt. To improve once work one needs to have dynamism and the ability to look at results with a sort of detachment, to remain fresh and flexible, the willingness to learn all over again from scratch. Then the creative process is fun and energising to go on.
    Self-doubt on the other hand will pull down the necesarry dynamic spirit, drain a lot of vital energy and cloud the mind with insecurity and anxiety.
  31. "Comminication without facial expression..."
    ...I guess this is why we both put smiles at the end of our posts. Seriously Allen I took no offence whatsoever from your post ;-)
  32. Bernd wrote
    But that's in direct violation of what you and others have been writing over on the other thread in regard to my comment about photographic art lacking originality when you state that influences are a necessary part of the process.
    Did you, unintentionally, just agree with my point about looking to yourself for the answer in originality as opposed to looking to others for influence and making small changes, incremental steps, to the work that has come before.
    Not trying to take anything out of context that you wrote on another thread.
    Selfexpression is and was never easy and is given not to everyone in the same measure. But, more important is that progress is success and everybody should continue to edit as long as some joy is involved in the process. The fact that only few are able to contribute "significant" or "original/authentic" results and be "great" artists doesnt mean that only the few should continue their efforts.
    My comment on going it alone and removing self-doubt has to do with having the rocks (male) or melones (female) to do what you will with the photographic process. I've found that a lot of self-doubt has to do with the fact that there's a lot of invalid online criticism out there today. I've also found there's a lot of critics online that haven't a clue but project themselves as being valid when in fact they're nothing but a bunch of mean sprited individuals that take great delight in trying to cause others great emotional harm.
    The point of the above, most self-doubt is not well founded.
  33. Thomas, I am not sure what is your point. You missed to paste a para obviously.
  34. Bernd wrote
    Thomas, I am not sure what is your point.
    Not trying to be mean, nasty or sarcastic as all I can suggest is to reread what I wrote. Can you post what part of the post you're not understanding?
  35. I agree with Thomas and disagree with those that praise self-doubt as a motivator. Self-doubt is not good. The fact that people can derive healthy motivation from a bad feeling does not make it good. And if the only time you feel motivated is when you feel the angst, then perhaps you need to find something else to do.

    Having realistic expectations to aim for and a realistic understand of your capabilities should not inhibit growth and creativity.
  36. Self doubt....sort of like counting your hairs on your rear, have i got enough....just get on with it.

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