I wrote this short list a couple of weeks ago, it’s in no particular order of importance and I’m sure there are things I left off the list. I’ve since tucked this piece of paper away in an already existing folder labeled “getting over breakup” because that seems to be the most appropriate place right now for it. I’ve found myself referring to this list often when I feel sad or alone.
-Talking with people one on one
-*Making pictures for myself*
-Printing my pictures
-Writing about my photography
-Blogging about the things I want to write about
-Being in love
-Organizing my things, computer, and personal space
*You’ll notice that wedding photography is no where on this list. I think that first and foremost when I’m at a wedding I AM making pictures for myself, I’m making the pictures that I enjoy. If I’m ever making the pictures that someone else wants me to make than I’m going to be really unhappy, and I have felt that way in the past. I think this is a win-win for both me and my clients. I think my clients hire me because they like my vision and believe in my ability to create what I feel using a camera as my tool.
I informed a few close friends last week, some whom I’ve played lacrosse with for nearly a decade, that I’m going to be focusing my time and energy on other things this season. Since moving back from Mexico in 2009, I’ve played on a traveling post-collegiate men’s club team, the 503lax Trees, made up of some of the best lacrosse players in the pacific northwest. We play other teams in the region all the way up to Victoria, Canada and play in California during the summer. All three seasons of our team’s existence we’ve played in our league championship game, winning once in our second year.
A small group of these guys are former college teammates of mine, and a few more I played against in college. Others have been guys I played with on high school all-star teams here in Portland, who went on to play at other universities and have now settled back home post-graduation.
When I think about where lacrosse fits in to the narrative of my life, I think about who I am as a person, and what I learned from succeeding at lacrosse at a high level. The process taught me about what it takes to be good at something I love. In short, I learned how to spend abnormal amounts of time by myself, practicing something for no immediate gratification. A lot of people ask, You can practice lacrosse by yourself? Yes, imagine the basketball player alone in the gym shooting free throws, or the soccer player dribbling in the yard until they’re called in to dinner. You can do that with lacrosse too.
In the last five years as my time and energy have become almost solely focused on photography, I continue to apply those lessons. I spend a ton of time by myself, at my computer, and generally just thinking and making decisions. There is no one patting me on the back at the end of the day, and no one sees the day-to-day toil, the struggle that goes with self-improvement. Every day feels like it’s the most painful and agonizing day I’ve had, where all of my flaws and failures are constantly exposed for all…and there’s just one day right after the other. But when I look back even one year it’s remarkable how far I’ve come and how much has changed. Look back five years…yikes!
I truly believe that getting better at something, for the most part, is painful, challenging, and it’s lonely. For me the decision to focus my time and energy on photography fees like I was giving up something I love for the one thing I love even more. Feeling like you’re good at something, and feeling for those fleeting epiphanous moments that you understand exactly why everything is the way it is, that for me is the best feeling in the world.