Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Managing Critical Voices Part Three: Twinkletoes

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When it comes to managing the critical inner voices in our heads (regarding our photography) Twinkletoes is yang to Ahab's yin, or vice versa; i.e., they are opposite or contrary forces which remain complementary, interconnected, and interdependent. Ahab and Twinkletoes are made for each other. They are lost without each other. They each help us in different yet positive ways in a duality of things sort of way. I know that sounds awfully philosophical and New Age(y) but it really isn't. It is what it is and it's reflective of many things in our lives as well as all that surrounds us.

A very quick descriptive recap on Ahab and Twinkletoes:

Ahab is our/my super-critical inner voice.  Leastwise, Ahab is what I named my critical inner voice. You may refer to Ahab by another name like The Prick or Chooch or something similar. (Chooch is an Italian slang word for jackass; one I sometimes use, me being a 2nd gen Italian-American who has heard my Italian-speaking relatives use it often enough.)  Ahab is my critical inner voice who nit-picks the crap out of ALL my photos. He's never satisfied. He never thinks my work is quite good enough. More often than not, Ahab tells me my photos suck.

Twinkletoes, on the other hand, is my feel-good inner critical voice. A voice who not only encourages and comforts me regarding my photos (even when Ahab is mostly right about them) but often hyper-inflates their level of (supposed) awesomeness.  Twinkletoes thinks my work is "amazing!"

While Ahab and Twinkletoes are polar opposites when it comes to self-criticism, they work together to provide levels of balance and harmony when self-critiquing one's work. Some photographers seem to be all-Ahab or all-Twinkletoes when describing their work. (Not a good thing, in my opinion.) And certainly there are people who comment on the work of others either in (nearly) all-Ahab terms or all-Twinkletoes. (Again, not a good thing.) How many times have you seen people describe someone's photo as "amazing" when it decidedly is not?  Not "amazing," that is. Probably too often... make that too often ad nauseum, leastwise on social media. (That ad nauseum term is Latin or, as I like to call Latin, "pre-Italian Italian.")

Whether Ahab or Twinkletoes are right or wrong about any given photo is usually irrelevant from a bigger picture perspective. That's because Ahab and Twinkletoes being right or wrong about any photo I've snapped, while often important in a variety of ways, isn't their primary job, their exclusive job, their #1 job.  Instead, their most important job is to work in tandem to keep a photographer, at least this photographer,  having a decent grasp of reality regarding my photos, that is, to not let my head overly inflate or to allow me to wallow in a self-critical pit of photographic despair. You know, it's that balance thing I wrote about earlier in this article.

I'm a guy who has spent years and years shooting hot, sexy women, often sans clothing. That alone nets me more than my "earned" share of compliments regarding my pictures. (Especially, from other guys.) It would be fairly easy for me to get all full of myself and allow Twinkletoes to rule my inner-critical-voice roost.  I've known, for instance, more than a couple of other shooters who snap the sort of stuff I shoot who became, in my mind, very much that way.  Thankfully, I have Ahab to keep that shit in check. Apparently, their "Ahabs" are either missing, underdeveloped, or somewhere along the way they/it passed away. It's called ego and, apparently, they've helped themselves to heaping helpings of it. They used to annoy me, those people did. Now, they mostly amuse me or, at the very least, bemuse me.

So, my advice?  Take stock of your Ahabs and Twinkletoes.  Take honest and realistic stock of them. Work at keeping them individually in check,  in perspective, balanced, and helping you to improve in harmonious and helpful ways. Keep listening to them but don't allow one or the other to generally rule or trump the other. You'll thank me in the morning... or next month or a year from now or whenever... Or not.

The pretty girl at the top is Kita. Canon 5D with a Canon 70-200 F/4 L non-IS at 120mm focal length. ISO 100, f/13, 160th. Main light modified with a 5' Photoflex Octo, plus a couple of small-ish shoot-through umbrellas either side from behind.

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