My then-6-year-old son took this photo on one of our "picture walks." Without any input, he declared it the best of the thousands of photos he has taken. I honestly don't know what specifically speaks to him in this photo. I just know he is adamant about it.
In fact, one day he called me from school.
"Dad, do you remember my picture of the leaves?"
"Sure, Son. What about it?"
"I want to show it to my class. Can you please print it out and bring it to me?"
Let's put aside that he thinks I can bring him a photo in the middle of the day. The point is... he has not only decided it is good, but he wants to show it off. It is his art.
There's a lesson us grownups can learn from him.
People ask me all the time what I think of their photos. Sometimes I say... what do you think? I don't do it to be flippant. I just want to hear how you feel about your art. Sure there are principles of exposure and composition that should guide you as you create. There are times when a photo critique can be helpful. There are times I might even offer without being asked.
But sometimes you know better than anyone else what you have created. You can decide what speaks to you and what should speak for you. Once you know, I'll be the first to help you celebrate it.
It is the equivalent of Miles Davis turning his back on his audiences. At some level he was saying that he creates for himself. That you look on and appreciate is great, just not essential. Are you ready to turn your back on your audience and just create?
Make your own masterpiece. You will know when it speaks to you in a way that you recognize, understand and appreciate. If you step back and feel pride in your work, that's excellent. It might not happen often, but when it does, listen to your voice.
Don't ask for opinions. Take your art to the world without fear or apology.
You are the artist. That's a grown up lesson from a 6-year-old boy.