Art as Voice: Should You Let Your Photography Speak for Itself?

Art speaks for itself. Or does it? This belief depends mostly on the expected outcome. This false belief is the misconception I have fallen under for the last several years as an artist trying to make a career.

In my earlier years of self-portraiture, I was using my images as my voice. I processed all of my feelings, emotions, and thoughts through this practice. I shared the pictures with the world to lift a heavy weight off of my chest.

I let the work speak for itself.

Were there people who connected with my self-portraits?


But I'm sure more viewers were left confused and wanting to know more.


Sometimes I would drop the images with absolutely no context and run and hide. Other times I would add a quote that I found online. Eventually, I began writing haikus to accompany the pictures.

Once I began getting my work into galleries, I learned the importance of titling my work. For far too long, I believed a title was enough. And sure, a title is enough for a gallery and its audience. But what if a viewer wants to know more about the artist? They visit their website and find what?

With mine, they found the images with their titles, and nothing more.

Here I was seeking connection and community, yet I wasn't contributing. Part of the reason was because of false beliefs I had conjured up about not being enough or worthy. There was a fear of my voice, words, and opinions not being needed. There's enough of that out there already.

I'll drop my art right here and be on my way.


I didn't educate myself on the importance of building these connections and communities of support through email lists, newsletters, blogging, and sharing more of myself than just a self-portrait.

So while I do believe that there are a time and place for art to speak for itself, that's not what I want to practice right now. What I want to practice is sharing authentically with you, because that is of the utmost importance to me.

With that said, what is it that you would like from me? What can I offer you? Leave a comment or email me at and let me know the type of content you'd like most from me and how I can best serve you.

* Sharon Covert is a teacher and mentor at The Define School. Sharon's courses, Expressive Self Portraiture and The Art of Authenticity are both available through The Define School. For more information email Sharon at or visit The Define School by clicking this link. You can sign up for Sharon’s newsletter HERE to stay up to date and receive a bonus black and white editing video.