The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Accepting the Praise - and The 1st Anniversary Edition of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

A few weeks back when I realised it would be coming up to a full year since I began the weekly live video podcasts, I started thinking about how to mark the occasion.

What content would I provide for it? Should it be a clip show of the best parts, or perhaps I should construct a blooper reel (I could certainly fill a couple of hours with the number of cock-ups I've made over the last 12 months)?

Eventually I decided to ask viewers to submit their best images – a chance for everyone to show off a bit, rather than put in for the usual Critique. It's a time for celebration so why not have a bit of a smug-fest?

Truth be told, I hadn't really absorbed the sense of achievement this 1st anniversary actually represents – I was too busy trying to think how I could make it interesting and entertaining for everyone else.

I've had to remind myself these podcasts only exist because I made them happen.
They have only lasted as long as they have because I made it happen.
People only give up a couple of hours of their time every week to watch, learn, and be a part of this warm and welcoming community, because I made it happen.

The problem is I can often only see what I haven't managed to make happen. I can see all the mistakes, all the things I've been unable to accomplish.

And yet the viewers only see what has been achieved, not what hasn't.

Those who come back every week are gaining something positive from the experience, regardless of what I feel I've failed to provide.

And this week, many have taken the time to congratulate me, to tell me how much they enjoy the podcasts, and what a difference it is making to their own photography and self confidence.

It's so easy to dismiss – they're just being kind, or polite, or are actually feeling sorry for me so are trying to give me a bit of a boost.

Besides, isn't it a bit too egotistical to accept praise? Isn't Pride one of the deadliest sins?

But when a person takes the time to congratulate, praise, or let us know what a positive impact we have had on an aspect of their lives, then they are offering us a gift, crafted especially for us.

To reject it  - to dismiss their tribute - is to be insensitive. 

The best response is not to say we are not worthy of it, but to genuinely thank them for this personal recognition. 

It also helps to tackle the inner voice that constantly tells us we are not good enough.

Confidence can only grow if we can build on each success. If every time we get something right we dismiss it, we will only ever be able to see the faults and things that have gone wrong – and that eventually becomes crippling.

I have to remind myself that to accept the wonderfully warm and heartfelt compliments, is not the first step down some kind of megalomaniacal road where I will end up too full of myself to care for anyone or anything else.

Instead there is a humbling side to people wanting to tell me I have had a positive effect on them, and I should allow myself to absorb it. 

Meanwhile, so much for trying to rein in the length of the podcasts. Last night was a record breaking 2½ hours long with another record breaking 400 comments.

You might need to stop for a comfort break or two if you watch this episode in one go...


0:00 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
3:50 - Looking back at the start of the podcasts a year ago
16:00 - What counts as a "Best Photo"
18:16 - My "best photo"
24:25 - Reviewing images on the theme "Best Photo" submitted to the Facebook Group, "Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres"
26:54 - Anniversary Cake
1:19:05 - How to be inspired rather than intimidated by other photographers
1:45:39 - Creating interesting photo opportunities with your local theatre companies
2:23:10 - Coming up next week
2:26:00 - End

If you found this interesting/useful/entertaining, then please consider supporting these podcasts and blog posts via

Also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel - – to help me build the numbers.

And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then do join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres  Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:


Ben Cravrn said...

Being praised can be lovely and squirmingly uncomfortable at the same time. We need to learn to accept and believe praise. It's very easy to dismiss one's own talents and abilities - "anyone could do that if they tried hard enough" - but I think there are two reasons not to. Most obviously, accepting that you're very good at something makes you feel better about yourself. But secondly, in accepting that you're very good at something, you're recognising that many other people aren't as good at it as you are, so you can be more understanding and patient when they find it hard to do something that you find easy. This is really important in teaching.

Kim Ayres said...

That's a good point, Ben - it's about remembering the journey we've been on to get to this level and understanding the feelings of those who are starting out :)

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