The First 10 Years - September 10th, 2018
Whelp! The internet reminded me a few days back that I’ve officially been shooting photography for over 10 years now. I’ll be honest, I thought my progress would have been further. I assume the end of my life will be something like what I am currently experiencing which is “Wow, that went fast.” It seems I’m just barely starting to grasp the wise words of my elders when they told me “Time goes quicker than you think.”
In the spirit of anniversaries, let’s see just how fucking horrifying Year 1 & 2 really were… *Takes a deep breath* To the archives!
When I first picked up a camera it was mostly to be creative in a way that didn’t involve modeling, and it was faster than drawing. I photographed macro, still life, bikes, and over the course of a year, a number of friends and slave labored my sister a bunch. The first few years were the most exciting cause the gains were exponential, obvious, and relatively easy to attain.
Admittedly, Year 1 was probably my most fun year in photography. Not that the subsequent haven’t delivered amazing memories and new friends, but I was in it purely for the fun, and had no expectations from anyone but me. I didn’t have goals, a client wish list, no questions of what gear would make my work better, or any desire beyond the next batch of point-and-shoot pixels that would get my dopamine levels hopping off the charts.
Early years are dedicated to trying a lot of things, as many different faucets as possible. I don’t think anyone should be really trying to “figure out their style” because if we do enough work and spend the hours just being immersed in it, style will inevitably start to form. Sometimes it looks like what’s already being made, and sometimes it turns into a creature that nobody has ever seen before. Regardless of what it is, you have to have your ass in the seat as often as you can or want, to find that voice.
10 years in, it feels like the gains I make now are at the sacrifice of dragging myself over broken glass while an elephant steps on my back. I’m not here because I retained that energy of “This is the best thing evaaarrrr!” from the early days, but because discipline and stubbornness have forced me to continue. When I’m bashing at the walls of my inability to complete a concept that’s been in my mind for 5 years, and I’m still probably another 2-3 years away from being competent enough to finalizing the piece, I know I’m in it for the long game. Time has taught me the harder things feel in the moment, the more frustrated and pressurized my brain feels over the work, I’m probably just getting closer to my next sliver of a creative breakthrough. I’ll trade one elephant for another bigger, slightly heavier elephant. While they trade places though, in those brief moments I’ll find I can breathe again.
Those moments are what I live for.
I write this all to serve as a reminder, to those in their first year, or to the grizzled veterans staring down a resume longer than a CVS receipt. Where we started and where we are now is worth celebrating. Most of us weren’t born with a natural “talent”, in fact many would argue that is a myth. We are simply a result of repetition and practice.
Cause ‘fuck trees’ that’s why.