Embracing the tiny, Day 17: Getting over yourself

the kroger building in cincinnati, from Over the Rhine

It is not,
as it turns out,
that hard to take a half-decent picture.

What’s hard
is taking 4,000 horrible pictures
first. What’s hard is
standing in the middle of the street
like a stupid tourist hick
taking two, three, seventeen horrible pictures
while people stare at you
with your doofus camera
and your zero credentials
acting (as if)
this is something
you do every day
because it is so much fun.

What’s hard
is going home
and sifting through
the ten, twelve, ninety horrible shots,
and trying to suss out which are really horrible
and which are just bad
and which are…okay?
and which are slightly better than okay
and which of those remaining two
is better because they look exactly the same

And what’s really really hard,
as it turns out,
is not taking the picture
at all
but putting it out there
for people to see
and judge
and form assumptions
about your talent
and your character
and your level of denial
and to not just do it once
but to do it the four thousand times
(at least)
that you have to be bad
before you can start
being halfway decent.

But taking a half-decent picture?
Is not that hard
as it turns out.


This is Day 17 of a 21-day series. For more scoop on the who/what/why, go here.


  1. If you aim at nothing,you’ll hit it every time.It takes talent to aim at or FOR something and persevere.

      1. Ah, yes … The famous dictum on why to climb Mount Everest.

        Mark Twain expressed the “why?” of Cincinnati perhaps even better: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati. Why? Because anything happening in the rest of the world takes 20-30 years to get to Cincinnati.”

  2. Colleen, just so you know, I forward so many of these posts to my amazing stepkids who still don’t always see their own creative magic. I’m grateful for the way you describe how this apprehension never, ever goes away and we just have to keep doing it anyway.

    1. Glad to hear it, Mary Ellen. Here’s hoping it helps them see it (way) sooner than we did. Or than I did, anyway. :-)

  3. So well articulated. I’ve often stood in strange places or crouched down in odd positions to capture a photograph. It’s often struck me that the most difficult thing about photography is getting over people looking at you and wondering who the heck you are and what the h-e-double hockey sticks you’re doing. And the putting it out there… the bracing yourself for a reaction. That’s hard, too. I write. I always have. But exposing that was, and still is, probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. Taking the picture itself is easy. Writing the post is not hard at all.

  4. I’m from Cincinnati, born and raised, live in California now. There’s something about seeing this photo at this moment that’s so evocative I’m nearly tearing up (in a good way). Thanks for doing the work, taking the risks and a sharing it.

  5. Lovely, hard truth. Thank you for your daring example and putting words to feelings I too have struggled with.
    I am loving this series of posts and the pictures you are making to accompany them. Have tucked away several for future inspiration. Thank you.

  6. The whole time I am reading this, I am nodding, a voice inside me screaming YES! Such a lovely prayer. Thank you.

  7. I’m applying this poem to writing, in particular, writing poetry. I’ve written a poem a day on my blog. Are they good? Who knows, who cares, not the point. (Well, I care). But what’s the most important thing for me, the why, is writing that bad boy, shipping it out into the world, and doing it all over again the next spankin’ day. And the next. And the…

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