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After viewing some incredible portfolios today of my peers and fellow photographers, and watching some amazingly creative videos as well... I've come to realize how extremely talented so many people are in this world - especially within my own world or little bubble called Toronto. The talent brewing here, like many other places no doubt, is staggering and growing at an overwhelming rate. It's truly humbling to watch and be inspired by those around me.
It reminds me of a story my high school art teacher, Percy Payette, once shared. He shared this story to us (the grade 9 or 10 visual arts class) during our very first drawing lesson. Drawing is something a lot of people are rather shy about - most people think you're either good or terrible at it - there's no in-between. But Payette was determined to teach us otherwise, and shared this story...
The story he shared (as best as I can remember) was about one of his first classes in drawing school at college/university where he was studying fine arts. He sat beside a kid who was, in Payette's opinion, absolutely amazing at still life drawing. From day one, Payette said he was constantly looking over the shoulder of this guy sitting next to him in class, and felt absolutely terrible about his own work. Payette did his best to emulate his style, but always came up short and he thought for sure that he would fail, or that drawing just wasn't his thing. The guy sitting next to him in the studio just seemed to have all the style and grace in the world in his drawings, something Payette just didn't seem to have. He assumed the guy was getting straight A marks, too (of course, right?), and was surely a class favourite. It was going to be a depressing semester for sure, sitting next to this creative genius.
One day Payette built up some courage and decided to actually talk to his classmate and let him know how much he admired his style. After all, it seemed like the right thing to do, maybe they could get along and Payette could learn a trick or two. So he did just that - tapped the guy on the shoulder and said, "Hey man sorry to interrupt you but I really, really like your work. I just thought you should know that it's truly inspiring. I wish I was as good at this as you are."
And the guy replied, "I feel the exact same about you and your work. I've been watching you and wish I was as good as you are, too." Payette couldn't believe his ears. This guy must be joking, right? The creative genius likes HIS work? Yep. it was true. They had a good laugh, and from that moment became friends and fed off each other's creativity.
It was just an amazing story to hear and a great reminder that no matter how much you might doubt yourself sometimes, there may be someone looking over your shoulder wishing they could be as good as you. There are a million different styles out there, in drawing just as there is in photography, and there is no "right" or "wrong".
Once the story was finished, Payette jumped into our first drawing lesson and we all felt totally empowered and willing to give it a try - whether we thought we were good at it or not - he told us anyone can be taught how to draw and he's absolutely right. Sure enough, I was looking over the shoulder of the guy next to me and I thought his work was absolutely amazing, but in the back of my mind I knew that he might feel the exact same about mine.