Failures Are Good

So… LaRoque has delivered and guess what. He upped his game - the game. Amazing stuff and if I were him I would definitely use the concept in some way for the business work he does. Unique and compelling. Then again I am nuts and pretty good at making bad ideas sound like good ideas by being really excited and talking fast.

I looked at this and immediately felt a lot of anxiety for what the hell I was going to do next. Pressure. I had an inkling of a thought that I immediately let go but we'll get to that in a minute because it only held on for about 10 milliseconds. Let's refer to that as my subconscious desire that didn't quite make it to the main processing unit.

My first full formed though was to out-american him. Hey I can definitely out-american him considering he is a Canadian and he just out-americaned me by going bigger, badder, stronger, faster. I know how to do that we all do down here where are brains don't permafrost and think of stuff to build like Poseidon weapon systems to deliver 14 MIRV'd W68 Mk III's each like 10 Hiroshima's from underwater 2 contents away and in case it might miss carry 14 each of those and in case that misses have 41 vehicles like that. No… no too obvious and it sounds bad hence the retirement of that plan to be replaced with something else in SALT I.

My next thought was to go with something like the Trident II weapons system and the Ohio class. Yea… That sounds much better on paper. Only like 14 or 15 of those and that sounds a lot better than 41. Not so obvious and blatant. Downright conservative with one small improvement. Twenty Four little nasties in all 14… and each of the 24 can do either 4 MIRV'd W88's like 50 Hiroshimas each or… 8 W76's at about 10 Hiroshimas each. Now I just gotta decide to go with a shit load of really really big explosions or… a handful of ludicrously large cataclysms. Hey… Wait a second. Put the brakes on…

I will just out-canadian him. He'll never expect it. Never see that comin'. People like the underdog. I will do something sweet and quiet while trying to convince others that his stuff was just way way too loud without actually saying it.

Okay enough with the analogies. I had to do it for the post title to have impact. Laugh if you will but this kind of thought process is what leads down very very unproductive and unpleasant roads leading nowhere. Here's why… They are driven by external forces and make assumptions about doing things you absolutely know will work and if that doesn't work you have backup plans that you know will absolutely positively work. And if they don't work then you have a plan to just make sure everyone dies while simultaneously coming at it from another angle.

Here's the issue with that. It's absolutely appropriate if you are doing work for a client. You might describe it differently but one way or another as a professional this should be the outcome. It needs to be assured. The only way that can happen is if you do something that you know you can do because you know how to do it and you are really really good at it. Fantastic.

Now external forces are not all bad. LaRoque got me off my ass in the winter. I am astonished at this. I am excited about this. I cannot wait to go shoot something. I never feel like that in the wintertime. The problem is if I pursue his considerable challenge in that light I will absolutely not learn anything new or travel down a road that I am curious about in concept or technique or the application of both to do things I haven't done before. That's what personal work is all about. That's what I shall do instead.

I am going to go really far out on a limb and say something that could and will be misunderstood by many many people. No matter how many caveats I attach it will not be taken seriously by most people. No caveats, here it is…

Assuming you actually know how to use your camera to some reasonably competent degree - as in you know why the picture is black when the lens cap is on…. If you are not failing then you are not growing. You are going nowhere new. Simple but true. This is not restricted to people that make a living by making photographs - it means anyone that treats the endeavor with any degree of serious intent and respect.

Failure is good. It's far to easy once you achieve any degree of success to just stop dead. Fear is why. Of course you shouldn't go nuts with client deliverables - at least not 100% of what you shoot for them. Not what I am talking about. Even if you only make images for yourself - fear creeps in. It's strange and it makes no sense because it really doesn't matter.

It's just your own ego playing strange games because we all want our next image to be the best one we have ever made and the fall back plan is to make one that's at least on-par. That's not so bad - that won't hurt - and the contingency to that is at least make one that appears competent. Appears that you know what you are doing - even if you are the only one that ever sees it. This creeps in. Why? Because it sucks to look at images you made that suck - it actually hurts in strange ways. It's easier and safer for your own ego feeding to make stuff that doesn't suck.

Sorry for the long and somewhat strange post - it's part of my New Years resolutions to share what is on my mind here. Now… back to my very first subconscious thought… That is what I am going with. Never really did it before and may not be able to pull anything worthwhile off because of a lot of reasons. The technical part doesn't scare me even though I have never played with it much. Making an image work in some aesthetic degree without a lot of prep and planning and location and and and does scare me. It's in no way "in the bag" but that is what I am going to do.

Don't worry I am not actually going to electrocute anyone. I was kidding if you were listing in on the Post-LaRoque twitter conversation.

I am not going to tell you what my plan is or even the concept. If it fails you will see it - I commit to that. If it doesn't completely Epic fail you will see it. Hmmmm… then how will you know if it's not Epic Fail but sorta works that I didn't cheat and pull out an old trick? Well part of it being successful is that you will know…

Over and out.


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