I could say that photography was my first love. It started when I was around six and my grandfather gave me his old Russian film camera, a Zorki. Although now it’s broken and lies somewhere in the back of a drawer in my parents house, I remember it perfectly, like we remember every detail about our loves. When I started going to school I also enrolled in the photography club of the school. In spite of this early start and the fact that a camera has always accompanied me along the years, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I took photography more seriously.
It all started with this blog. It was just a small step, but often this is all it takes. Soon I found myself taking more and more steps on this new, unexpected road, which seemed like being built with each step I took. I bought a DSLR camera, I enrolled in a photography course, I learned more about blogging, I changed the look of my blog, I began writing more, I took a Photoshop course, I bought one more lens, I read books and blogs about photography and learned (and I am still learning) with growing enthusiasm, all this while working a full time job and doing other activities: learning French (because I’m living in Belgium), traveling, doing yoga and all the rest you have to do for a living. (You might want to read this other post I wrote about finding your passion or your true calling). Now I find myself musing – half scared, half confident – with the idea of doing this for a living.
It all started with a small step in a new direction. But this road is not always easy. There are moments when I feel I will never be good enough or that I should just drop it and stick to a safe job that pays the bills. In moments like this, it is so important to find support and recover the inner strength to keep going. I am lucky to have good friends who support me. I am also inspired and motivated by other people’s stories. I see that many people who are doing creative work are going through the same process. Lately I’ve been reading some articles and a book that inspired and motivated me, which I would like to share with you:
– an interview with Mary Jo Bang, On Learning, Self-Discipline and Taking the Road Less Traveled from which I quote:
“If that desire is strong enough, and persistent enough, you do whatever you have to do to teach yourself how to cross over from being a reader to being a reader who is a writer. […] The same was true of photography. It took me a long time to make the photographs I saw in my mind. […] Over time, what was on the film and the photographic paper more and more resembled what I’d imagined when I looked into the viewfinder. And I saw how, if you steadily worked at something, what you don’t know gradually erodes and what you do know slowly grows and at some point you’ve gained a degree of mastery. What you know becomes what you are. You know photography and you are a photographer. You know writing and you are a writer.”
– a speech by Ira Glass on the importance of doing a lot of work when you want to be good at something (a writer in his case):
“…it’s like there’s a gap. That for the first years you are making stuff, what you are making isn’t so good. It’s not that great, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. And your taste is good enough, that you can tell that what you are making, is kind of disappointment to you, you know what I mean? A lot of people never get past that phase and a lot of people at that point they quit. […] the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you are going to finish one story. Because it’s only actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you are making will be as good as your ambitions.“
– an article on how to deal with mistakes, by Brooke Snow, a photographer whose style and photography tips and honesty I really like: How being easier on ourselves has more rewards than we allow ourselves to know
– the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which speaks of resistance (as an inner negative force) that keeps us from accomplishing something important for us, especially a creative activity:
” Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along in it, and then find, as they near completion, that the work seels mysteriously drained of merit. It’s no longer worth the trouble. To therapists, this surge of sudden disinterest (It doesn’t matter) is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.”
“There’s a secret that real writers know and wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from siting down is Resistance. […] Resistance seems to come from outside ourselves. We locate it in spouses, jobs, bosses, kids. Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within. […] Rule of thumb: the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
– an interview with Marjane Satrapi, the creator of Persepolis, who is telling us ironically and bluntly honest what it means to be an artist: “Because creation, you know, it means that you don’t have any salary, you don’t have any retirement, all of that. So if you don’t have the security, at least have the freedom”
More inspiring quotes on my other blog.