As this year comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on change. It’s the one thing in life you can count on. As an artist, the struggle comes from a desire to grow, yet remain true to your original passion. When you take your art and create a business from it, you are always balancing the needs of your client with the needs of the artist. There are compromises and a deep-seated fear to keep it safe. Spend too much time in the safe places and you stop growing.
How many musicians have struggled for decades to get that first album out, a true masterpiece and then struggle with expanding their sound and not lose their audience along the way? Pressured to create more music using the same formula that worked the first time. Some musicians reach past these limits and become legends, icons of talent. Others play it safe and become one hit wonders or put out albums that always sound the same.
Our society is inundated with photographs. Digital photography is giving everyone immediate access to creative imagery and photographers are struggling to define their place in this quickly evolving landscape. All the rules have been thrown out the window and yet the one truth that remains is the transparency of life. The soul of an artist. The dedication and practice of craft.
That’s what fueled my passion when I first picked up a camera and discovered my vision, my voice with images. There were no limits. I was naive perhaps, but the only thing limiting me was myself. I would get lost in the creative process and lose track of time. Finding my way back to that creative place has proved more difficult than I imagined.
From a recent episode of 60 Minutes, I found inspiration from this interview:
Seven years ago Sheikh Mohammed decided what Dubai needed was more waterfront property and beaches for all the tourists who were going to come. Dubai only had 60 miles of coastline and so ordered Sultan Bin Sulayem to create more.
“After two months, I came to him and I showed him this picture, a perspective of an island. He said ‘How much beach is this going to give us?’ I said seven kilometers. He said ‘Why not 70?’ You know he always asks you the impossible. Not what you are able, but what you cannot do,” Sultan Bin Sulayem remembers.
“So, Sheikh Mohammed gave you the land and told you to start building?”
“He gave us the water,” Sultan Bin Sulayem says. “We have to make the land.”
A photographer I admire greatly once told me that when you think you have the shot, stop and turn around—many times the image you are really looking for is directly behind you. It’s important to see things differently and keep growing. Not following the safe, formulaic rut of practiced technique. Take risks, run with scissors and find that passion once again.
May you find yourself surrounded by the warmth of family and friends as we head into a new year. Examine your own life and ask how you’re limiting yourself and break free.