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So, sometimes things look like this to me. I’m not even kidding. Everything I touch feels immense. Everything I see looks like an entire universe and I can’t handle it. I feel every atom in each breath , my heart pumps out oceans of blood through me. And if I move too suddenly, the earth with tear itself apart.
Friends say I often have a natural high, well sometimes I have a natural trippyness too!
It’s amazing how advanced our society has become. So many intellectual, medicinal, and technological improvements have been made available for so many in such a short period of time. I am in awe of the solutions people have come up with in recent years to make people’s lives better and richer(intellectually). But with these leaps of mankind have also brought the accelerated depletion of natural habitats, resources, and most of all the dignity and decency towards those who produce our modern marvels.
It’s easy to be blinded by our achievements and sit back imagining ways to solve our resource challenges or create non-profits to support the oppressed. But what are we doing to change the way we live so we don’t have to even come to that point?
I don’t even know what I can do besides talk about it and reduce how much crap I buy. But that’s not enough for me. I don’t want to keep talking about what I care about, I want to start living a life that cares. Though, I don’t know how to do that yet.
I valued our “progress” more than addressing environmental effects or human dignity because I’d say it’s for the greater good. The greater good is not served by abusing people who if I knew them could very well be a best friend of mine. These injustices are reported as isolated cases but these “isolated” cases are happening in every field and every country around the world. It’s not longer “The few for the many” it’s now “The many for the few”.
The worst part is that I don’t know what I can do about it nor even if I would follow through with a change.
When something really nice happens in my life I immediately start preparing for how to continue being happy should it go away. It’s a cruel thing to do to myself, despite the self-preservation. I hardly get to enjoy the moment and the gift of spontaneity.
On the other side of things… When something really nice happens I tend to think about it too much. I drown myself in thoughts and disappear from the the world of the living and exist in my fast paced imagination.
The third thing I do when something nice happens is that I day dream about it until it turns on itself and I end up imagining all the ways it could end. None of the scenarios are what I would want for myself.
I think my imagination always searches for an end to a story. I’m a story teller and it’s real hard for me not to anticipate how a story will turn out. Personal experience does not provide too many happy endings, but that’s just it, real life never ends at the close of a book or at the credits. In movies and books we never see how the lives of characters unfold after the story. I leave those stories okay with assumptions and never lose sleep wondering about them. But of course it’s not my life so it’s not something I’d care to figure out for them.
Okay random example:
I’m on a plane and I imagine all the ways I could die: Crash on takeoff, fuselage failure and I get sucked out, die in the engine, die after free fall, crash due to pilot error in a storm, die trying to stop terrorists, survive the crash but burn to death in the wreckage, crushed slowly by debris, slowly freeze in the Atlantic. Once I get that out of the way, I imagine all the ways I could survive: surviving on a snowy mountain top like in “Alive”, living in a forest or jungle after escaping the exploding wreckage, floating in the ocean with other passengers, figuring out how to live through the heat of the Sahara Desert, escaping the aircraft after a minor crash landing at the airport. Then I patiently calm and convince myself that death isn’t all that bad, as long as it’s quick, most likely an air crash would be. But I don’t want to be surprised with fear and dread should we nose dive and flip upside-down to our deaths. I want to be okay with it. I want to clear my head of regret and not pray to God for another chance. If this is it then I’m fine. I lived an awesome life and it’s okay that this is all I get.
How morbid is that?! I do it so I won’t have to suffer during the fall. Yet, I ruin most of my flight worrying. I try to convince myself that when I get on a plane, I am as good as dead and to be okay with it from the beginning. Personally, I don’t think this is the right way to go about it. I’d rather not assume life or death as a possibility. I’d rather continue as I do walking down the street.
In the same way I’d like to reduce the amount of “Air Crash Scenarios” in my day to day life. Though, I feel like it’s a responsible thing to anticipate possibilities, I remind of myself when Qui Gon Gin advised Obi Wan Kenobi to yes, be mindful of the future but “Not at the expense of the moment.”
Currently, I’m doing a good job at that.
When I know what someone is going to say and I know I am not going to like it, I avoid them as much as possible. Recently, I’ve found it’s because I know they have a point and I don’t know a better way to change or explain what I’ve done. I just wanted them to see I tried my hardest and for them to admire even my half-assed attempts at creation. But really, if I’m doing something and it isn’t coming across the way I hoped, there is no easy way to accept the fact that I failed.
There are people whos’ opinions I cannot wait to hear about my work. Eagerly, I reach out for their input, I take it in like fairy dust and I float without feeling judged or misunderstood. With them I feel free and happy to communicate my ideas and together we collaborate improving my vision. But there are also those who I can not stand hearing from. They take a shallow step into my world and decide too quickly that it’s several things that they do not like. I try to avoid getting their input, but from time to time I’ll ask the most critical of them to take a look. The thing is, I think the same as they do and that part of me wants to see what it would look like if I failed. There is a person who makes himself known inside my head (particularly in the morning) and hates everything I think is great.
Example: After I’ve stayed up all night on a project, he wakes up, takes a look at it and as though all context and aesthetic were transparent he sees through to my canvas, seeing nothing there.
“Crap.”, he declares. I respond, “What? It’s great. Look how they seem to be judged by inanimate objects but the irony is…” He cuts me off, “Looks like you’re being obvious and that’s coming through more than you know. Others will think so, I wouldn’t post it.”
Feeling content with his appraisal, he leaves me defeated and wondering why I even bother making anything ever. But wait… being obvious isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I intended on being obvious! That’s not something I was afraid of, and yes I do hope people see it that way. If I let him speak for me I often forget that the negatives he sees are often the intentions I had in the first place. It’s funny how quickly I can get defensive about something that I hadn’t realized was a strength all along.
The other side of it is positive, too. If he attacks the core of my work and I don’t have a solid reason to uphold it then my idea crumbles. Sounds bad but wait there’s more.
When I get negative criticism about my work I feel like, “Well, they just don’t know what I’m trying to do.” Instead of trying to explain myself, I avoid talking about it all together. Most often I don’t actually know enough to explain what I did and when it’s hard to communicate my ideas I just say, “Well, it’s just hard to explain what’s in my mind.” I expect my critics just to respect my opinion and leave it alone, but the real smart ones then ask, “Well, then why did you ask me to look at it?”
The real answer is, again, I just wanted the approval. But I’m finding that those who question my work offer something more valuable – purpose. It may come across with lots of negative energy but if I picture someone else saying it (Julie Andrews) I can see the issues a lot easier.
The fact is, sometimes I fail. Instead of weakening an idea by settling with a sub-par image, I can openly say, “Yeah, I didn’t get the shot.” This can ultimately save the purpose the shoot. Being honest with myself may mean re-doing something that took a long time or accepting that I had missed a unique opportunity. It’s hard to see failures as lessons for the next time, especially when I need money for rent. But the quicker I can define what I am doing, the faster I can re-focus my efforts into something that works. Even if I can’t, at least I gave myself the opportunity to improve.
This turned into kind of a ramble but remember:
1) Don’t be defensive about strengths.
2) Be honest with what you intend on accomplishing.
Whenever I dream that I’ve been without pants, no one seems to notice nor care. Now I figure, “Well why should I?”
If society doesn’t care about my exposed self then there must be nothing wrong. It feels great to just go about my business without a care how I look or how others may perceive me.
I assume this has to be my subconscious telling me that whatever I’ve been ashamed about isn’t all that big of a deal. Now I need to figure out just what I’m insecure about and not mind so much in real life… yeah good luck, me.
Being self-aware (self-conscious) is so strange. Like crossing a tight rope; once I think about how well I am doing I begin to fail. Why is there a “confidence auto-destruct” built into myself?
Most of the time I self-destruct before I even try. There are times I have to trick myself to get out of the apartment for shoots. My mind is resisting but I’ve told my body, “Just take us; he’ll do fine once we’re there.”
About the Shot:
I just needed her to look somewhat towards the camera. If I had her eyes looking away from the direction of the crowd it would complete the “self-aware subject” idea. The scene being very dark and my hands cold and I was ensured that every shot would be a blurred mess. Trying not to think about that I continued shooting muttering to myself, “Please look towards the camera, look at the camera, the camera, look at the camera…” And then she disappeared.
I looked through my shots anyway and they were all actually sharp except for the one where she begins to look towards me.
“God Damn It!”
Then the last frame was right before I lost sight of her behind the crossing guard. Her face had stopped moving and the shot was crisp!
“Got it, got the damn photo.”
Editing wise: As if she needs anymore attention, I dodged her hair.
Intelligence without action is cowardice.
Action without intelligence is stupidity.
I think there are as many intelligent people as there are stupid ones.
Unfortunately, cowardice creates more successful idiots.
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I took this photo of a determined young Togolese girl during a campaign against forced marriage and female circumcision in Togo.
Along with Togolese counterparts we rode our bikes far off the main road and did an awareness tour through remote villages.
We intended to give young women the chance of at least knowing that their lives and bodies need not be in the hands of others.
We didn’t just leave after our tour; we continued to live there and worked with local leaders to advocate for women’s rights and empowerment.
It seemed easier back then to do bold things and aspire to help those who wanted our support.
However, now I can’t get myself to do anything productive. I watch days pass without posting a blog entry or a photo to flickr.
I see myself squandering my potential by not entering in photo contests or applying for assignments.
I sit in front of my computer complaining about how it’s not often the ones that are good who make it but the ones that persist.
I intend to do good and persist, else it’s my own damn fault that disappointing work continues.
I was raised by my grandparents. When I was 13 my grandfather Eddie started his 10 year descent into Alzheimer’s. Over the course of that decade the memory of his character before the illness blurred with whom I was living. I was losing more than a loved one, I was losing how I perceived him.
For his funeral I put together a collage of photos of him that spanned his 97 years. Sorting through each photo I relived his life and got to know him through memories he couldn’t share. Then I came across a photo I took of him when I was eight. He was in mid motion taking a toothpick from his mouth (He loved toothpicks). His classic straw fedora hat was tilted to the side. There was an orange glow to his face and it brought him back to life in my memory.
Despite how advanced his condition had become, he never forgot who I was. He always recognized me as his “Niño”. For this I am forever grateful. Even when I had a hard time remembering who he was, he never lost memory of me.