I do not try my best; I do what is necessary. This applies to all endeavors, from making photographs to being kind to others. I am not naïve; the politics of today shun this arrogance, nonetheless, it is how I am. My ESL mother (she was born in Peshawar) indoctrinated me with the words, “Do not try; people who try, fail. Just do.” Years later, in one of the Star Wars movies, I watched in disbelief when Yoda said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” The directive was obviously not that uncommon.
I frequently hear people say, “Do your best.” Everyone is free to live their own way; however, I cannot imagine an airplane pilot doing her best to land the airplane. She should just land, otherwise, not fly in the first place. Why is this attitude shunned when applied to other endeavors i.e., creating art?
I must push myself to make a photograph that meets the image in my mind; there is no risk versus rewards analysis beforehand. I do what I must. This might mean sliding down a ravine for a specific perspective and worrying later how to climb up, driving hundreds of miles on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, crawling on a wet sea boulder in the rain or waking hours before dawn to drive to a remote location to see if the scattered sunrise colors match my vision from the previous evening. My artwork is built on decades of countless failures; I kept my nose to the grindstone instead of packing my bags and going home with a participation trophy. Art collectors do not buy participation trophies; they buy the best.
I want my artwork to be appreciated, admired and valued. If it sucks, I want to know so I can learn, work harder and improve.