Koi carp

Being the koi

Years ago I took a lot of pictures with a Canon 550D. It came with a kit lens, an EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM that I both loved and despised at the same time.
Back then I didn’t like myself very much, and my work either, I did not like my work at all. I wanted so badly to be the photographer in my head that I forgot to be the photographer behind my camera.

The only camera you need is the one in your head; the one you use to make the image can come from anywhere, can be borrowed, can be bought or accepted as a gift kindly given…

Every now and then I would put aside all those considerations of whether or not I stood out in among the crowd of every other photographer out there. Every person who was my competition and my nemesis.

Back then I both considered myself too good, inside, and too appalling, outside! When it became the image, that terrible over exposed image. Too horrible to show the world. Too ghastly not to edit into some form of freedom from mediocrity. Worse, from despondency and pity.

I could see it, but like an artist who didn’t know how to paint or draw, I couldn’t make it real. The moment would slip from my grasp before I could devise a method for it’s capture. It was like the ripples on the water.

A koi in a pond,

glistening in the botanical gardens,

the reflection of light on the water,

and reflections, and reflections, and reflections,

and the reflections of light on the water as fish moves,

a thing that slips through time and space,

so easy, so simple, so beautiful,
as we all move through our lives…For a long time I would take the card out of my beloved camera. My not-good-enough camera. My hated camera. My camera that I worshiped, and at the end of the day…

I would put the card into my computer, and wonder why the JPGs that came out didn’t look like the thing in my head, the vision that I saw through my lens, through that mirror?

My cheap and beautiful new lens that I had spent a whole year saving up to afford. My expensive new camera that I needed to define my identity.

I would look at them, the JPGs in Lightroom, and think

“Is this good photography?”

“Does it say anything?”

“Does it have a centre?”

“Does it have balance?”

“Am I really a photographer, or am I just pretending?”

That’s the problem with not showing your work to anyone, you obsess over it, and like the writer who won’t let anyone read it until it’s finished, it never gets good enough. It never changes. It becomes a loop, self-fulfilling, made out of ego.

Then occasionally I would think “Just because other people are better doesn’t mean that you are no good!”
I would put my butchered images up to be viewed by people and criticised by people on the multiple myriad networks of the world and cringe at every comment made, good or bad. It’s curious how easily we can become lost in the crowd. How small we feel is such a vast place. How alone we really are. From a place of loneliness we look out at the world, we copy it, we make our stamps, these are the stamps we leave on the screens of those who watch our work.

I am the artist struggling to escape the vagabond…

Only with knowledge and discipline can we take the thoughts in our heads and make them into beautiful things. Only with the help of others can we know and break our limits and bonds.

We are like fish who swim through water creating ripples in the moments of our lives.

My ripples are the images I leave in my wake. My goal is to be like the fish, to swim through the fabric and medium I use and leave effortlessly beautiful things like a trail that marks my actions, emotions, and intent. When you share, you share your fears and hopes. That is what is so scary, that’s why it’s so hard.

These are the ripples of our lives, these are the documents of choices made. They last for a moment, and then there gone…


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