Not many people know, but I’ve spent a huge portion of this journey dissatisfied with my work. I’ve gone two weeks without picking up my camera—let alone shooting anything. Even working on my digital workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop, I couldn’t quite attain what I was after.
Recently, I have started my next course for my degree and from the beginning, I wasn’t excited. Especially because I flunked with a big fat F in my last class due to falling behind because of work and a few minor personal issues. I was beyond disappointed in myself. I was going to withdraw and just reevaluate this entire experience. But then, I saw that my next class was Photographic Design. Save for one other teacher, I felt an extreme disconnect from my professors. I suppose I could have cultivated that relationship a little better, but I wasn’t all that interested in doing that. My attitude towards the whole thing was turning to shit. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know what to expect from taking accelerated courses online…but still, you know? It can be overwhelming…and there is so much to learn and read and—I was burning out.
Then, my new professor called me the other day.
And we talked. Then I called her today, and we talked some more about class and I could tell that she loves what she does. She’s very direct and straightforward and also a mountain of information. I talk to people on the phone for a living. Most of my day consists of speaking with people and helping them to achieve their academic goals. For the most part, I love it.
But talking to her today gave me a boost of confidence that I needed. I was feeling very discouraged and hearing her speak with quiet conviction and assurance that she was going to help me as much as she could snapped me out of my funk. I am the sort of person that usually can reassure themselves. I’m very independent that way. Still—I’m human. And I’m a human with two children embarking on an adventure I would have never had the courage to do two years ago.
Suddenly, I have started taking my class seriously. I have passed all my classes, except one, with a B simply by winging it. I will admit that I am a Master at doing things by the skin of my teeth. But I began reading the text books in earnest and during the course of my first assignment, I stumbled upon a photographer named Bruce Barnbaum who wrote The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression. I bought the book—well, the Kindle version, for a little over 20 bucks and it was one of the best things I could have done for myself. In these pages, I have found a new level of understanding why I needed to do this. How many of us spend our entire lives searching for the thing that we will be remembered by—or the chance to make our time here on this planet relevant? I thought I would never find mines. How many times can one stop and start before the engine gives out?
But now I see the world in lines and texture and color. Just as in literature, each photographer has their own, unique voice. Because writing has always been second nature to me, I never questioned that voice. However, photography is new territory and for once, my confidence in my ability nearly took me out of the game. So, although there is only a whisper now—at least I can hear it.