Awakening: or How To Work When You Feel Like Crap

I know I said that this was gonna be about real photography stuff. It's not so I guess that means I broke a promise. I beg your pardon. It couldn't be helped. As some of you know, I've been off work for awhile because I had surgery on my arm. So far, I've been off for eleven weeks. That may sound great, but in reality it's been very hard on me. I feel isolated and I've been having a very hard time getting any work done. I've been having a hard time getting motivated to do anything at all.

How do you keep working when you'd rather do anything else? Like maybe putting a pencil in your eye or slowly peeling your skin off. If you don't feel like working you're just gonna make crap anyway, right? So why bother at all? Well I discovered a few things that might change your mind. Read on, if you have the guts for it.

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Darkness and Creative Vision

My work was beginning to reflect my inner state. I had found the key to unlocking my vision. We all start by mimicking the work of those who have come before us. We have to. It's how we learn our craft. But looking inside allowed me to stop making photographs that had been made a thousand times before by a thousand different artists. I could make work that was truly mine. Work that couldn't be made by anyone else. This is the way of the artist. The urge and the direction come from the muse but the inspiration and the vision comes from the darkness. Anything creative comes from that dark corner of yourself. And that’s why I have to go back to the city.

An artist's tools and techniques should always be servants of that artist's vision. But what is vision and how do we find our own? Vision is what makes your work unique. It's your own voice, expressed in a creative way. It doesn't matter what medium you're working in. Without your own vision, your work is going to end up looking like it's been done before. If you're having trouble defining your own vision for your work, this is for you.

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Who Am I and Why Should You Care?

Art saved my life. Photography saved my life. There. I said it. And I’m not overstating it.

I think there are only three things in this life worth exploring: love, beauty, and death. In those things are all that makes life worth living. And making art that comes from your soul requires confronting all three. That’s why I believe that art is life. It helps us see our experience on this planet through a transcendent lens and lets us touch the numinous. It moves the ancient currents inside us, the ones we all have in common. It gives form to things and feelings that we have no words for. Things that soar above human experience. Things that speak to us only through art. We get a whiff of that ethereal splendor and we use crude tools in an attempt to express the inexpressible, We beat on skin drums and clang about on tin bells trying to make glorious music that reaches the ears of heaven. And we fail far more often than we succeed. But we all feel those things, even though we can’t explain them. They are what makes life worth living at all. Without them, life is just a process of working, consuming, and reproducing. We might as well be birds. This is what differentiates us from every other life form on the planet. And some of us serve as conduits to those numinous things for the rest of us. We call those people artists.

This is my story. It's the story of a life gone haywire and my struggle to reclaim my calling as an artist. It's also about the struggle that every artist faces in the quest to realize their value and the value of their work in a world that couldn't care less. It's about looking inward and overcoming the obstacles to the creative life, many of which are of our own making. It's a little long but I've been told that it's worth the effort. If you have a muse, it's a letter to you.

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