This photograph of two unfinished wagon wheels was taken at the wheelwright shop in Williamsburg, VA. I can’t even recall what year it was, but probably sometime in 1975 or 1976. My memory is also hazy about the particular camera I used. My guess is that it was a Nikkormat FTN, which I would have been using about that time. What I am clear on is that it is the first photograph that I entered into a juried competition. It won a 3rd place finish in the 1977 Wayne County Art fair held in Richmond, IN.
But, here’s the lesson I learned. Without solid advice and interest from my mother, this photo would never have happened. The negatives are long gone (that’s another story), but I developed and printed a number of those Williamsburg photos. This one was a landscape format image. While I was showing them off to my family, my mother took a couple of pieces of white paper and imagined a crop that might be better than the original. She was absolutely right.
It is absolutely critical to seek out, listen to, and adapt to the advice of those that we trust, those that know where our passion is leading us. Mark Citret goes further in his advice to aspiring photographers, encouraging students to take great care in those we will invite into our journey. I agree. Too much harsh or negative criticism will certainly shut an artist down. Likewise with people who would want us to take their path – rather than our own. Too little criticism and we aren’t challenged to push back our own boundaries. These relationships are not static, either. As my path changes, I find those advisers and mentors also have to change.