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Not Every Photo Can Be a Unicorn

"Entwined" does in fact feature none other than the Boy Wonder himself ... Joel Robison! This is from the Silver Lake Flickr Gathering I went to last year. You can read more about that grand experience here, and see all the images that everyone created here.

Ok let's be honest - your work is awesome, right? Right. You want every piece of your new artwork to top the last and be even more beautiful and well renowned, but they can't all be the best. It's just not possible (because ... science). All of your work can definitely be good or even great; you can love each and every one of your art-babies equally, but no matter what you do you're going to create a real winner every now and then. Sometimes you accidentally create a unicorn (ok not an actual unicorn ... well maybe you're making a picture of a unicorn ... but just stay with me.) - an image that just shines a bit brighter and sticks its head a bit higher out of the ever-filling pool of images flooding the internet these days. 

My last picture "The Storyteller" was absolutely one of those "winners."  (If I'm allowed to say so myself.) I knew as I was putting on the finishing touches that the internet was going to welcome my magical-woodland-creature-wonderland with open arms. I was right. The blog post I wrote for it was picked up by PetaPixel and then ... *dramatic pause* ... ADOBE-MOTHER-EFFING-PHOTOSHOP started sharing it all over the place! (#ExposureOverload #ImGonnaPassOut #WhatIsLife #ThatShouldBeEnoughHashtags) Needless to say I have been on photography-cloud-nine (maybe even cloud ten?) since I posted it and feeling super jazzed to make more art, put out my next post, and keep up the creative momentum.

Thanks Val for this behind the scenes shot! :) She is the lovely lady in this picture.

Thanks Val for this behind the scenes shot! :) She is the lovely lady in this picture.

The problem was I kept measuring this new picture up against the last one. "How can I make this way more exciting?" "It needs an extra something." "What blog post can I write about this that people will want to read!?" For the first time, I completely finished a picture and still had NO idea what the crap I was going to write about. Usually the blog posts kind of write themselves in my head as I'm editing; I can rattle them off pretty easily once I start writing since I've been plotting them in my noggin for a while. Yet, there I was with a shiny new piece of artwork and no clue what to write about it...

I was trying to come up with something spectacular to top my last post when it dawned on me ... Not every post is going to be your best! Just like not every one of your images is going to be the best. Now do not get me wrong people; I'm super proud of and totally love this new picture. (Also, I think once my fingers finish typing it, this will be a totally solid blog post.) It's just that not everything I pump out is going to be one of the "unicorns." You know, one of those random images/posts that has that rare-and-mystical-something that grabs a lot of people's (and Adobe's) attention. They are oftentimes not even the ones you expect. You could spend hour upon hour making what you think will be the most popular image ever, and it ends up getting almost no traffic. Then of course the post you just throw out there not expecting much always seems to be the one to blow up. For all I know this image could actually be a unicorn ... I've never had back to back unicorns before but you never know!

Every one of my blog posts doesn't have to be a tutorial of sorts, stuffed to the brim with tips and tricks. Rather than always striving to share posts that are what I think people will like, it's ok to just put up a post (like this one) that is more about a thought, feeling, philosophy, or lesson learned. Sure, I doubt Adobe is going to be knocking down my door to share this post with their audience, and that's perfectly fine. (However, if anyone from Adobe is by chance reading this, I love you, and feel free to share this post!!!)

Don't beat yourself up attempting to make every picture the craziest most amazing thing ever. I mean well yeah, absolutely do always try your best to create the most beautiful art that your brain can muster, but don't make bad work because you're trying to turn things into something they're not. There was a period in the middle of editing "Entwined" when I had to slap some sense into myself and dial it back a bit. (By "I" of course I mean "Sara," who was like, "What is even going on? What's all this? And his eyes are a bit too distracting in a weird way.") Like I said, I was striving to live up to my last image, so I was adding more and more elements in an attempt to take it to some mythical "next level."

This was the "wait what the heck am I doing" version that needed some major rethinking.

This was the "wait what the heck am I doing" version that needed some major rethinking.

I added branches and leaves around the sides, went with a weirder more saturated color palette and painted Joel's eyes extra crazy piercing and glowy. Really what I needed was to take a step back, delete some pointless layers, eat a sandwich, and start creating the image I was originally picturing in my head when I shot it. I just had to make the art I wanted to make and not care if it was going to be everyone's new favorite. I had to stop trying to make art for "the internet" and make art for myself. If the people of the internet appreciated it then cool, but you have to make the art you love to create, not the art you think will get you attention.

Just keep creating. Keep pushing yourself. Experiment with new things. If you are constantly TRYING to force every picture to be a unicorn, you're just going end up making a bunch of horses and maybe a few donkeys. Keep making work and enjoying your craft and eventually the unicorns will come out of the woods on their own .... (and fart sparkles.)

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