How Long Before You Felt You Were Doing A Good Job?

This past weekend I was DP for a pretty intense psychological film. I have worked with the director before so I started off pretty comfortably. We have produced some pretty quality work before; nothing great but some very solid work (some better equipment would help, but we work with what we have).

However, a couple of weekends ago we had attended a festival together and watched the local short films being created (North Alabama). I was really impressed by some but felt like we were pretty much on par with everyone overall. But there were definitely a couple that I felt shined in the cinematography department and were easily better than what I have produced so far. I beat myself up a little and was really thinking of ways to do better on this project.

All weekend long that thought was looming over me. I wanted to do better. I know I probably shouldn't be trying to compete since this is "art" and art is subjective, but our "art" leads to jobs and that's where I want to be, getting jobs regularly and out of my day job.

Anyways, how did you know you were starting to produce good pieces of work? Was there a specific piece of recognition? Was it when you realized you could go full time in your area of expertise?
how did you know you were starting to produce good pieces of work?
Probably about the same time I realised that :
I beat myself up a little and was really thinking of ways to do better

In my (non-movie-industry) professional life, there are a couple of things I do really well, and in my artistic life another two things. What made me realise I was "better than average" was having other people point it out, especially my professional peers in the first case, and family/friends in the second. I dismissed the first few comments as random compliments, but once it was obvious that there was a pattern, it made me question what these others were seeing as "great" while I still rated myself only as "good" and strove to do better.

I think it's the "artist's dilemma": how can you ever be satisfied with what you're doing yourself, when you draw inspiration from other work that inspires you precisely because it stimulates or provokes you in a way that makes you question your achievements to date! In my case, only this week, I realised that I've done it again: pulled back from publishing some photos on an online sales platform (in time for Christmas) because I went looking through some image libraries and decided that my photos needed more work. Then I got a notification of a royalty payment for an image that I uploaded four or five years ago, before I had the better-spec equipment and software that I use today.

You'll probably never be good enough to satisfy your own expectations ... so adjust your expectations accordingly! :director:
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Don't make stuff to be better than the next guy/gal. Make stuff you want to see at the movies.

However, competition is a good motivator to get things done. But in the end, it comes in waves... Just like motivation in general. The quality of the work is only ONE aspect of the art. Another aspect is, does it fill you with that tingly sensation when you watch it?

I make content based on that tingly sensation. When I get it, I know I succeeded.
You are your own worst critic. And you always will be. There are plenty of fantastic, extremely experienced actors who have been in blockbuster movie franchises who can’t bring themselves to watch their own work.

I can’t watch anything I’ve shot without sitting there picking every flaw.

But, sometimes revisiting things is good - I recently re-watched a few things I shot 5-6 years ago that at the time I thought were a bit ‘meh’ but revisiting made me realise:
-they’re actually a lot better than I thought
-i’ve come a really long way since then

Every thing I shoot I pick out the issues and ways I can do better next time. It’s a part of growing in your career. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning, stop picking out problems, or stop being inspired by people who are far better at this than me.

You certainly need a self-confidence in your abilities, but if there’s ever a point where I think I know it all, I think that’s probably the time for me to quit.