“Good hunting is no more about killing an animal than good sex is about making babies or good writing is about publication. The excitement, even the fulfillment is in the beauty of the search.” ~ Pam Houston, “The Blood of Fine and Wild Animals,” A Little More About Me
I don’t know what I am doing but I am in love. I am in love with the expressive adventure I’m on, the unknown, the countless photographs that may suck and the unexpected gems I will uncover. I am like a child at play. I love the sound of my camera when I depress the shutter, the experimentation and continued discovery of the relationship between composition, shutter speed, ISO and aperture. I sometimes think, this is the best part, the time when I am learning and expectation is not high and anything, everything, feels possible. In time, I will raise the bar, like I did with writing, and may become less forgiving of my stumbling around with lenses and settings.
My camera drives me to seek, to find, improve, learn and my writing drives me to dive more deeply into my images. My camera and words have become inseparable. I want to share what I see and hear.
As I approach 60, I know that if I were to die tomorrow, my deepest regret in life would be time wasted worrying about what others might think of my art, my writing, pottery, drawings, my photography, my voice. I regret the time I spent asking: Is my voice worth hearing? Are my images rich enough in story? Will my audience understand what I am trying to do? When would I be good enough, I thought? Good enough to share how I see, how I think, what I feel?
Worries like that are useless and stifling and yet every artist I know has had their share of them, including DaVinci. How could we not? We are vulnerable when we share our art, ourselves. How I choose to express myself will not touch or be understood by everyone. But this has never been the point. I write about and capture images to try to make sense of my own existence and invite curiosity. When my process inspires or comforts others, well, that’s an added benefit.
I spent 2014 paralyzed in a kind of panic that killed my creativity, the anxiety spinning my head in so many directions that I eventually fell to the ground exhausted, lonely, spent and empty. Quieting the very thing that has always brought me to my senses, my inner rambling voice, was a sort of death. My voice was quiet.
The time I spent worrying provided no fruit, no comfort and did little to avoid the truth of where I was at that time which happened to be broke and professionally confused.
I won’t do that again.
I need solitude and time without interruption to hear and see. Now I take that time. Art cannot be the thing I attend to when everything else is done.
My personal creative journey is to unwrap the journey ‘to,’ not the arrival ‘at.’
The thing that saves me from falling into the abyss of paralyzation today is my passion for discovery.
Every failure, every missed shot, is teaching me something. Sometimes it turns out that my ‘mistakes’ are the things I love the most. Every time I missed the mark or experienced failure, something was revealed. Like trying to write an essay I think is timely only to read my words and discover that there was another story begging to be told. Or the times I under or over exposed a picture or was using a slow shutter speed only to discover through a little editing that those images spoke to me.
Every beautiful thing I’ve written or created began as curiosity, bewilderment or confusion. And the stories I stayed with or the pictures I played with again and again fought their way into my conscience. I wrote or shot my way into the stories begging to be seen or told. By me.
I didn’t have to be perfect. All I had to do was see. Listen. Document. Let the process guide me.