Lightroom duty, day 2106

Whatever’s gnawing at my head has been doing it long enough that it began to eat into who I am.

No, wait. I take that back. This part is immortal. There’s no evil in this world capable of taming, destroying or twisting that force. What happened, though – is that the evil tried to cut it off. Why bother destroying something existing beyond place and time when you can just veil it, cover it, pile fear on top of it until even the bearer of that force themselves cannot find it?

I can’t sleep. Whatever’s gnawing at my head takes the biggest bites at night. I read psychology handbooks in bed, and it rarely helps. Escaping obviously doesn’t help either; the wicked side of proper, successful therapy is that once you make some changes in your head, you can’t get back. I wish I could spend hours or days blissfully unaware of whatever’s going on around. I can’t. Now that I’m aware of how things could be, now that I’ve unblocked my ability to feel – there’s no escape. You don’t get to lie down once you learned how to run.

* * *

The despair has not changed – but I have. I still feel like I’m Tennessee Williams; I wait for the click – except I’ve found some less drastic way to bring it upon myself. Back then I used to drink myself into oblivion; now I’ve found some very promising ego state triggers that hopefully make me click. Because mind you, it’s a known phenomenon. Ego states. On a good night, I’ll just introspect upon myself and watch the post-traumatic cauldron of thought. On a bad night I am both the cauldron and all within. From the inside, trauma doesn’t feel like an inflicted wound; it feels like the world is on fire.

Reading psychology handbooks in bed surely can’t be that bad.. right?

* * *

Folks, I’m fooling myself. Books no longer bring me the enlightenment they used to. I’ve found people. My stupid autistic ass has found people, human connection, emotions, compassion – and now I can’t go back. That stuff – even though extremely taxing – seems way stronger than any kind of excitement I could get from a good design or a good book. So here I am, with a goddamn choice: stick my head in the tarpit of everyday life’s escapism – or stick my head in the sun. My choice has become the infinite boredom, or the infinite connection. In a way, I learned the whole spectrum of feeling and being, just to be thrown back in the same old choice:

Too excited / too frightened / too exhausted / excruciatingly bored.

* * *

Post scriptum:

I forgot about this blog. Of all the brain outlets I have – and mind you, I have plenty – this one seems most personal, most “me”, most “I don’t give a damn about what you think about me when you read this”. I forgot I don’t have to be comprehensible here. I don’t have to make sense. I get to juggle emotions, to mistreat words, to tell lies with pictures. Only the die-hards will read this anyway; only the fools and witches will understand.

I like this place. Soon it’s gonna fill up with pictures once again. Didn’t I tell you? I found the click. It’s my camera’s shutter sound. It’s the pop of a developer bottle’s lid. It’s the film reel closing. It clicks – and I’m back. Not whole, not healed, not suddenly free – but at least fully present. At least with this click I get to tap that creative life force I almost thought I lost.

I read up so much about traumatic triggers I didn’t realize there are also healing ones.

stay away stay away stay away

Here’s to well-meant advice: please don’t give one. And if you do, fuck off.

A bit short of two years ago I decided it would be a good idea to enter the wonderful world of commercial photography. After many slips, stumbles, repeats, assignments and bouts of depressions I’ve distilled an important gem of knowledge for young, aspiring artists who are just starting and are being given well-meant advice by well-meaning people. It goes like this:

Put art aside for a year; learn martial arts instead so you can punch people in the face with confidence. You’ll need that skill in order to fight your biggest enemies: your friends.

* * *

Your friends and family will offer two very important and very contradicting pieces of advice, ultimately leading to you hating yourself to the point of abandoning ship and selling all your cameras and getting a corporate job in Warsaw.

The first one is: I love your work so much.

And the second: your work will never sell.

And I can’t stress just how much is wrong with that advice.

* * *

Hearing it from strangers will damage your business. Selling yourself and your work takes lots of courage and boldness; building a business from the ground up means pretending you’re professional while in reality you’re just starting out. It means making a credible-looking website and scrambling to find photos for it. It means lots of legwork and asking around so you can get those important portfolio shots, usually for free. Starting a business means persistence in the face of no results – and so listening to statements about inviability of your endeavour will shut down all your efforts in no time.

But what’s worse, hearing it from people you care about will damage you.

I don’t get the phenomenon of conflicting messages from the ones you love; I just know they will tear you apart and wreck you. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve been told, multiple times and on multiple occasions, that my photographs spark deep feelings in people. I’ve been thanked for something I could never truly grasp; a kind of service I fulfill by taking pictures. And yet, somehow, the same people would tell me this kind of work is impossible to sell, that no one would ever want or pay for slightly blurry and crooked but intensely emotional snaps shot on black & white film. The same people who praised my work claimed it had no value.

It took me two years to learn not to listen to them.

(Guess what: you were wrong. There is a very real market for blurry, crooked, underexposed, overcontrasty, grainy, amateur-looking-but-professional memories of cherished moments. There’s a very real market for the joy that comes with them. A joy that, sadly, is very bittersweet to share with you.)

we sing the body electric

An intersection of thoughts, inspirations, visions. This Easter break has been a delight.

There’s this person I’ve admired for years. I first saw her photos by chance, on an online group dedicated to one lovely little camera we both owned at the time – and immediately fell in love with the way she saw the world. I remember following in her footsteps, tracing the walks, adventures, troubles and smiles, beams of sunlight and dark moods. I remember an eerie but friendly mood of her photos, a quiet way of accepting the reality while still grasping it, taking in as much emotion and feeling as possible. The world she portrayed… it was one of a perfect dream. I never thought of her as a real person, someone I could one day talk to, laugh with, walk the rainy streets together… but after many years of not knowing each other, in an impossible yet somehow effortless time and place, this was about to change.

* * *

When you meet someone for the first time, there’s always this anxious feeling, a minuscule possibility of disappointment. It was there… but it was fleeting; it dispersed like a wisp of smoke, gave way like the shadows yield to the light of gently rising sun. That morning had the softness of an Instax picture, an unsaturated, heartwarming glow. An it left a desire – for long talks, for change, for people whose fire never stops burning. For travels, books, the unknown. For photographs.

* * *

Her name is Jola. You’re missing a lot if you don’t know her.

Continue reading “we sing the body electric”

Lightroom duty, day 1169

Colors are completely off. Instead of focusing on the important aspects of photography – like choosing the best set of photos – I’m painstakingly moving the white balance slider 50 degrees left or right, trying to find a point where the scene looks at least half-natural. It takes all the joy away. I don’t want to be a photographer anymore. Why the hell did I agree to shoot color in the first place?

Lightroom duty, day 970

One day I though: what the hell; I’ve been shooting this peculiar kind of personal documentary for so long that I might as well start doing it commercially.

How do you start as a professional personal photographer when you’re me? You start by filling your bag to the brim with film. My first resolution was to never run out of film; the second one was to stop shooting digital. The final one was not to listen to people who are driven by fear; who won’t take risks, won’t face challenges and won’t ever let anyone else chase their dreams. In other words, I ignored all my friends’ advice and did it anyway.

First assignment: a wedding.

I’m hooked… forever. The results came out so good I don’t even know what to say; I get overly emotional whenever I look at my own photos. It never happened before. If this is how my photographic life is going to look like from now on, count me in. All in.