As much as I dislike the whole connotation of the term “New Year’s Resolution”- the implication being that life has gotten wildly off track for us in the year just ending - this time of year does lend itself to a certain amount of both reflection upon the past and looking forward to the future. Recently, much of the Earth’s population witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime event: a total lunar eclipse which occurred on the date of the annual winter solstice. This alone got me thinking about the mid-point of the winter season, the mid-point of the darkness and the light in our daily journey around the sun, and for me personally, the mid-point of life in general.
Taking stock of one’s life can be hefty business. As I climbed the hill of early life, I developed skills and interests that have served me well in my careers and creative pursuits. The recent eclipse reminded me that I’m now on the top of that hill…and the vista is amazing up here! What I have done and what I will do are apparent to me now with equal measure. Without the obvious reference to being “over-the-hill,” I’ll just say that I look at it from the standpoint of physics: an object that is located at a vertical height and is at rest is said to have stored gravitational potential energy. At this point, I’m in for one heck of a ride with all the stored up “potential” I’ve banked over the years. It took years to get here and I’m grateful to have reached the summit. But what about the present? It’s so easy to ignore the ever-present “present”… the gift of now.
So, I liken my current state to a photographer’s exposed roll of film, or a full compact flash card. The images are captured from the past, but haven’t yet reached the next step…the future, where they are shared with the world. They just sit there, undeveloped and un-potentialized in the stagnant present. The same analogy could be applied to one’s computer hard drive. The images live, they exist – I know in my case because I’ve seen them! – but they don’t see the light of day (or the light of a full moon if it doesn’t happen to be eclipsed at the time). For me, it’s time to address this backlog. This whole situation reminds me of what was said to us in RMSP’s 2004 Summer Intensive when I, like many of my classmates, were battling the inner demon of self-doubt and fear when it comes to showing our work to others. Our instructors Elizabeth Stone, Susanna Gaunt, Marcy James and of course Neil, all encouraged us with a common rallying cry, “The world deserves to see your art!”
In the classic book written by artists for fellow artists, Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, one quote in particular stands out to me.
“To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process.”
There are two parties to consider here. The final viewer with regard to the result of the work, and the artist with regard to the act of creating the work. For the modern day the photographer, “the process” just begins with visualizing and creating the image. It continues beyond this with development, digital processing and final output. This could mean uploading it to their website or Flickr account, posting on their photo-blog or having it printed to hang on a wall. Whatever the result, output is about overcoming fear.
I have seen many, many brave souls who have stretched beyond their comfort zones – the participants in our monthly blog photo assignments for example – who constantly fulfill their artistic mission in countless ways by sharing their work with us. Their collective pursuits have inspired me to great heights (there I go again) and I am writing this to challenge both myself and all of you. I know that I have personally not been very brave and maybe some of you haven’t been either. Well, enough of that. Let the New Year, 2011, be the year of output for all us. Write that blog, create that website, Flicker-ize, Facebook flourish, plaster those prints and smack the world in the face with your…er…our art! I’ve come to believe that indeed, the world does deserve it.
It has been my honor to be one of your blog masters with the absence of Paper Airplanes’ administrator, Page Orb Pedde. She has been on maternity leave nourishing herself and her newest project, a healthy, happy baby boy. We greatly look forward to her return to overseeing Paper Airplanes in the new year.
So, Happy NOW Year to one and all!
“…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Tags | Advice, art, Career Training, Facebook, fear, Flickr, graduate, inspiration, passion, photography, potential, Rocky Mountain School of Photography