Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cloud Ship

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a young photographer who was a little depressed. She felt like she was being called to create, but was getting no support or respect for what she was doing. "How can I get people to quit looking at my work and saying "It's just clouds."?

Just clouds?

Cirrus, Cirrostratus, Cirrocumulus, Cirrus Uncinus, Contrail, Pileus, Altocumulus, Altostratus, Altostratus Undulatus, Altocumulus Undulatus, Stratus, Nimbostratus, Stratocumulus, Cumulis Humilus, Cumulonimbus, Pyrocumulus, Cumulonimbus Incus, Cumulonimbus Calvus, Cumulus Congestus....

Just clouds?

Rain, snow, sleet, hail, shade, tornadoes, hurricanes....

White, gray, black, orange, red, yellow, gold, silver, and pink....

Always present and always changing.

Just clouds, you say?

So what do I say to this aspiring artist?

First of all, stop showing your work to anyone who says "It's just clouds." Secondly, don't let your self worth be determined by outsiders. Your work needs only to be validated by you. Now, if you are subconsciously saying to yourself "It's just clouds", then maybe you need to rethink your subject matter. Sometimes, when negative comments really hurt, it's because you are thinking the same thing and were really hoping for validation as opposed to a confirmation of your own fears. I haven't seen these photographs of "just clouds". Maybe they are poorly done, maybe skill and vision is lacking. I don't know. But any failure can certainly not be placed on the clouds.

It's never "just a kitten" or "just a flower" or just anything else... I've seen beautiful photographs of kittens and flowers and single, solitary rocks. I've also seen horrible photographs of kittens and flowers and single, solitary rocks. Once again, skill and vision trumps the subject.

Remember laying on your back in a field as a kid, looking up at the clouds passing by? Where has that wonderment gone?

It's almost sad that someone could look at this and say "It's just a cloud."

Cloud Ship


kim* said...

just clouds...no way that takes work to do.

Anonymous said...

I remember as a kid, making things out of the clouds. That is a great picture. : )

Anonymous said...

Scott, clouds are one of the finest things, the creator gives us. As time goes by, more people are taking for granted the simple things in life, like clouds, and the beauty of mother nature.

Very spiritual picture, scott.

Joseph Williams

Bluesaphire said...

well personaly i love clouds and i love the advice you gave your friend and agree totaly so very caring of you to take time to listen and support!

rose AKA Walk in the Woods - she/her said...

As artists, creators, healers, whatever - it is so often our charge to cajole our disconnected two-legged companions to pause . . . to breath . . . come to their SENCES . . . to REconnect . . . and witness the beauty and inspiration that is all around them. And within them.


Karen Casey-Smith said...

This is an absolutely wonderful post, perfectly expressed, Scott! I love clouds, all of them. "Cloud Ship" so beautifully illustrates what you've said. Thanks.

lovemaryxoxo said...

Well said. Those "just clouds" people obviously keep their head down too much.

Just clouds. Can we simply create clouds, they are never "just clouds" I know they still take my breath away.

Alison Du Bois said...

I've always loved clouds - both for that moment when you recognize a shape and for the fleeting time you have to enjoy it. I personally still spend a lot of my time looking up! I think photography gives us all the opportunity to enjoy that moment a bit longer. Beautifully expressed, Scott, and Cloud Ship is lovely - thank you!

Allen Hughes said...

Wonderful blog Scott. As you say; "Just Clouds?"... I'd love to have a link to her photos so we could give her either supportive praise or a constructive critique.... But to those who say "Just Clouds"... I feel sorry for them actually... where's the wonderment?... the appreciation of one of mother natures fleeting creations?... and the imagination; where is it? We should all sit back on a cloudy day and gaze at the formations as they drift by and let our imaginations run wild.

BeckyKay said...

lovely. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration!

Sarah McBride said...

that is a great perspective. There is no such thing as "just clouds".
I love your photograph.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Very well said!

I have never stopped looking at the clouds. I often find myself in the company of different people here and there looking up at the clouds in amazement. It always strikes me as odd when they do not reacte the way I do. How can they not see what I see.

Great advice to your friend. Totally agree!

Anonymous said...

Great pic- I also see a three toed sloth hanging upside down, and if you tilt your head to the right it looks like a bird... besides the fact that the cloud itself is just beautiful as a cloud.

Lucy Corrander : Photos said...

Sharp points in this post.

While in real life, there is no such thing as 'just clouds' - photos can reduce them to a 'just' as easily as they can re-present them in a new light and with a different understanding. A browse through the pictures contributed to Friday Skywatch (which many of us take part in) demonstrates it. We can't trust trust that the beauty of the subject matter will result in an interesting photo. (Your kitten comparison.)

I also agree (to a degree) that, if you find yourself prickled by someone's remarks it may be because you need to reconsider the photo yourself; but that if you are confident in what you are presenting, the doubts or criticisms will roll off you. The other day I showed someone this


and I could see he was incredulous and disappointed. He had been there when I took the photo - and had even taken a photo of me taking the photo (!) so I guess he felt some kind of connection with what he had expected as an end result. He stood there with a deflated 'this woman is mad, what a let down' kind of expression - and I watched him with amused surprise.

But there are other times when I've gone back and fiddled with (or deleted) pictures people haven't liked or understood . . . their reactions tuned me in with my own doubts.

But when you are beginning . . . when the opinions of others matter deeply . . . these strands can be difficult to separate out.


Lucy Corrander : Photos said...

Happy Easter, Scott.


Daniel Fealko said...

Yes, and Ansel Adams' Half Dome photos are "just a cliff."

I wouldn't let it bother me too much if others fail to see the wonder in the world around us. There will always be those which "having eyes, see not."

Liz said...

I agree!! It's definitely NOT just a cloud!!