yesterday i posted a story about william albert allard under "family/friends"….in that story i mentioned his "healthy ego"….

we have already discussed the role "talent" plays in your work…

but now, i have a maybe more interesting question for you: how large a role does "ego" play in your work??

19 Responses to “ego”

  • Hi David. I think this ties in with your prior thread on talent vs. work:

    Ego + talent + hard work= self confidence

    Ego – talent + hard work = stubborn (talent may come)

    Ego alone = vanity

  • I have to say that at least in my profession I’m really tired of ego around me…there’s a lot…and the problem is that if you don’t show some…then nobody respect you…

  • Hi David;
    Interesting post… I think ego plays a part as why else would you want to see your work in print.

    I’ve come at it from a different angle though. I’ve no degree etc. in photography or writing and often am amazed that someone is paying ME for my view of the world.

    My work background is a “dollar per hour” job, not a university degree etc. I love the thought that when you pitch an idea to an editor you’re playing on a level playing field and are judged on your work, not a degree on the wall.This must be one of the few occupations where a qualification is not essential

    I often feel that I’m bluffing my way through, and that one day all my chickens will come home to roost!!

    I have met photographers who’s ego has got in the way of their photography when dealing with their subjects. “Their” photo is more important than learning, listening or spending time with a subject. The ego gets in the way of giving something back to the subject.

    I think the quiet approach yields better dividends…


  • hmmm… i believe that if you truly want to do your work, the ego shouldn’t be present – it will only creates problems. i once read that it’s your ‘artist’ that should take over and this rang true for me because all your ‘artist’ wants to do is tell the truth. your truth. and in the end, that’s all that matters… we create our ego (big or small, healthy or not) to deal with our day to day insecurities and challenges…

  • In my work plays a lot… I think generaly women has less ego…
    when i am shooting storys people feel always very comfortable, they usualy treat me as a friend and forgot that I am shooting pictures, because i don’t show my ego at all and many times I laught at myself… :-)
    and until this part it’s good i think… but later.. when i am presenting my pictures my small ego is not good at all… big ego helps a lot in this case
    I was reading a book about “Women photographers in NG” (it was title in polish). And one of editors from NG, wrote that when a man-photographer comes to NG office he usualy comes proud about his pictures, he comes to show that he did a good job. When woman-photographer comes to show pictures, most of the time she says that something could be better or it’s not as good as she wanted it to be and even she has same good pictures as a men, she always complain a litle bit… same was in my small newspaper! :-)

  • I do agry with Aga. Usually women are less confident about their work, maybe because we always look for feelings, not only a good image.

    I do not think ego will be good while working. While working, all you have to do is follow your emotions, letting all the inside happen through the photography. Just like a deep and silence talk with oneself. But it is true that a small dose of ego helps when you have to show your work. If they see you confident, you transmit confidence. I am not confidence at all and wish I were more as what you transmit is what people see of you. But I am talking about confidence, not ego. Because I do think that ego distroys the talent one can have.

    In the other hand… if we’re not completely satisfied with our work, we’ll keep on improving and working hard, right? as too much of ego and self confidence can make you relaxed.

    As always, we need balance. For everything!

  • Ego plays as big a part as you need it to play.

  • Interesting- not to get all Freudian here, but perhaps based on Ana and Aga’s comments, women tend to be more driven by the super-ego, the higher order conscience, rather than the ego.

    But this is a generalization. I also know many males who could use a bit more “ego”, often times myself included. And also in the Feudian sense, “ego” is not a bad thing, it’s an integral part of one’s psyche. Like Ana said, I agree that with respect to work, it is more about balance. Which brings my train of thought to zen teachings, the concept of “no mind”, otherwise known as being in “the zone”, peacefully appreciating every part of the day to day experience… Time for me to talk less and shoot more!

  • In the Allard story David wrote, “his work could only be produced by someone with a strong sense of himself and artistic sensibility to match.” I’m trying to apply that now to my own life and work. I can think of so many times when I wavered in my confidence and then missed the shot. I’m now putting together a portfolio and that’s an exercise in confidence and ego too. Am I picking the right photos and puting them in the right sequence? What am I forgetting? It can be an endless circle of torment. I know I’m a pretty good photographer, but I usually don’t believe it.

    Believing in ourselves and in our ability to produce good work should add to the confidence we need to build rapport with the people we want to photograph. The way some people respond to photographers who lack confidence is not pleasant. And the way photo editors respond to them is even worse!

    So David, thanks as always. I’m really using these conversations to overhaul my career.


  • There is a difference between confidence and ego. In order to be a strong photographer, you need to have firm confidence in your ability. Ego doesn’t really have a place in a profession that tries to move, inform, educate and challenge others to get involved. It kind of defeats the point of why we’re out here. Ego only draws the attention back to you, while confidence helps you do your job in a way that draws attention to your subject.

  • Ego seems so cosmetic—something separate from talent or confidence. It’s more like it’s the default way of describing one brimming with personality. I think healthy egos develop out of the need to stir the emotional pot from time to time—to demand a particular result, like when a photographer knows what he/she wants, and has to be bull-headed to get it.

    “Believing in ourselves and in our ability to produce good work should add to the confidence we need to build rapport with the people we want to photograph.” I have to agree with Andrew on this. So much depends on what kind of photographer you are, but if you’re dealing with people, a healthy ego can be the colorful side of your personality, and that can inspire the fulfillment of the shot.

    I’m going to continue to shoot and absorb all I can this summer, then I’m asking for an ego for Christmas.

  • as much as i’d like to leave it behind sometimes, (appreciation for buddhist ways), by its very nature the ego is simply inescapable, isn’t it? i suppose certain circumstances require an inflamed ego, but those are rare. while shooting, ego can be a liability, and while editing ego can be your friend. but as ‘documentary’ photographers, perhaps ego ought to be kept at bay to some degree… unless you can carefully turn your ego into a strength which garners respect in a useful manner… hmmm.. interesting question.

  • I have no ego , you know that!

  • well, it is late and i have exhausted myself with comments under other headings….before i comment, i am going to get up in the morning and have 4 coffees and go re-read the meaning of the word “ego”..i only really did this back in college and that was awhile back….

    obviously there are many interpretations of ego among all of you and it is a word i throw around all the time…maybe incorrectly…i will find out in the morning….

    stay tuned….

  • ok.. David… we are waiting for you :-)
    but don’t drink 4 coffees.. 2 are fine ;-)

  • well, now it is afternoon….yes, i know i was supposed to get up early and study the word “ego”…anyway, i just did some reading which did take me back to college and i would not want to be “tested” on what i just read…

    without getting too freudian or jungian i think it is safe to say that the word ego, as it applies to us, simply means “sense of self” or as many of you have implied “over inflated sense of self”…confidence comes in there too….and , actually maybe our “id” comes in way way more than we think…our ego is supposed to control our “id”…personally, my id needs more control than my ego…i think!!!

    seems to me, that if our “id” is out of control that is way worse than an out of control ego….but, i will stop analyizing that before i go way way off…

    surely we all need confidence…and a healthy sense of self, by reason, should be a factor…self esteem is part of it too…

    when i think of all the “successful” people i know, they sure do seem to me to have either very healthy egos or maybe even lean in the direction of “over-inflated ego”…

    i would imagine the very act of “creating” something would naturally assume some pretty strong sense of self….the very act of taking a picture that you then put “out there” to be enjoyed, to communicate, to enlighten would seem to me require a strong ego…

    we photogs are “assuming” that what we “saw” is worth something…worthy of being seen by others….if we had no confidence, no self-esteem, no ego i doubt that we would be a photographers at all….i know of no photographers who photograph and then do not show them to, showing our work as our “statement” must mean we all have healthy egos…

    some do have “over inflated egos” and assume that everything they do is great work…we all know those photographers…but, most photographers i know have a pretty good balance of confidence and humility….

    it seems that we should all take our confidence and sense of self and put it to good use…for communication or for aesthetic pleasures….and then have the humility to realize that maybe we have done something special, but does not require any explanation beyond the “work” itself….

    in other words, we should work, lay the work on the table and let our pictures speak for themselves…our ego is already in more ego needed..there is no need for further explanation….

    those who over explain or over sell themselves fall into the “over inflated” category and they just are not much fun to go have a beer with!!!

    cheers, david

  • well put, well put.

    (Mmmmmmm… beer.)

  • clive…

    you invented the word ego!!

    just teasing my friend…i actually think you are pretty humble….you take criticism very well and then go back out and shoot…healthy ego, yes…over-inflated ego, no…

    just to feed that healthy ego a bit, i just saw some new good work on your site..


    are you really ready for c’ville??? not sure that i am…i think a little quiet time alone is not what next week will be about!!!

  • You are too kind!
    See my comment on Bill Allard…………

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