I have not come here for this

I have not come here for this

June 12th, 2020

There are times when everything seems to go wrong.

In time like this nothing seems to go to plan (a plan that have been meticulously crafted, with maps and directions, based on weather reports and previous experiences with the photographed place) and all the impressions that you have are that you are being utterly unprepared. 

You have, yet again, failed.

In times like this it is perhaps best to return home, take a deep breath and look into what went wrong with the preparations and correct the mistakes. You thought you were prepared. In fact you were not.

Failure is a part of the process they say. Learn from it. What will not kill you will make you stronger they say. None of this helps much when, back home, you look at your raw files and see nothing even remotely acceptable.

This can be an entry to photographer’s dark place, a slow vortex of trials and dissatisfaction. It gnaws at self-esteem and little by little conquers it with a merciless doubt. This is where you stop believing in yourself, where everybody who ever said you are not cut for it comes creeping from all corners and whisper it to your ear over and over again. More and more you focus on the negative. By now ambition and desire to prove yourself have taken over and incapacitated you. No matter how hard you try you seem never to be able t achieve anything.

You are now in a very dark place indeed. Who would have thought, sitting and preparing the trip with all the excitement and expectations, that this is how it is going to end.

If you have never been in such spot, my dear reader, there is a chance you know someone who has. If not in photography that in other walk of life.

Careful what you wish for, they say. Maybe they should have added ‘careful how you wish for it’ too.

Insecurity, self-doubt and perceiving work of others as superior to yours is part and parcel of having an artistic soul. The lack of balance and strong inner drive to pursue what might be called ‘success’ is the other part, often the stronger one. Mastering the art of letting go, of controlling your inner desires and opening to whatever comes your way is perhaps the best protection against those profound powers which, when unchecked, might tear you apart.

I am not writing this from my personal experience. My own demons are of very different nature. Over the years I have seen this happening many times to very talented people I had the pleasure of meeting whose candles got snuffed by their own doing.

My very own story for this month is a lot simpler – it’s a story of short travels near my home to photograph some old ruins and buildings at sunsets. As it turned out, all planning had been useless as both the light and the vantage points chosen were utterly wrong for what I was aiming at. For instance a sunset over Dover Castel turned out to be one of the most beautiful ones I have seen in years – yet it chose not to be over the Castle as I wished it to be but a few miles away over rather dull field. In all cases it took no more than a chance in my attitude to find something I truly enjoyed witnessing and photographing.

‘Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.’ To me those words by Max Ehrmann pertain both to what surrounds you and what happens within you. ‘As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.’ – that means you too. Always, as far as possible, focus on the positive as only this has the power to move you forward – that would be my own addition to the famous text of desiderata. Happiness found inside you and not in the outside things or other people is perhaps the strongest and most enduring

Whether you are a photographer, a writer or a guy on a bike who just happens to be on that road – what you get is what you see. This, and nothing else, is exactly what you came here for and you will not receive anything else. A sunset never really sucks – it might be that you just need to move a bit to see it in a better light. Most importantly though – enjoy what you do. The rest will come.

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