Tag Archives | Uncertainty

Photos from my Opening Reception – I Did It!

Firstly, a BIG thank you to everyone who stopped by the Opening Reception!!! And a second BIG thank you to Michelle and Shawn of Moniker Gallery who helped make the night a success!

I won’t lie – I was quite nervous leading up to the 7pm start, but having my family and my best friend there completely calmed me. As a steady flow of visitors entered the gallery – former and current colleagues, friends and friends of friends/family, people who’d walked by and those who’d come because of the listing in CONTACT , my main goal was for everyone – including me – to have fun.

Second truth of the post: it was great to see many faces I hadn’t seen in months and, in some cases, years, and to meet a number of new and wonderfully friendly people, but I spent so much energy worrying about whether people were having a good time that by the end of the night, I was exhausted! I’m sure the mental and emotional lead-up, organizing, and then actually bringing off the night also played a part, but for anyone who’s hosted an event, been a bride (as my best friend pointed out), or been in a similar role, as much as you want to enjoy the evening, you also want to be sure everyone else is enjoying it too! In far too many cases, I only managed to have a few minutes conversation before excusing myself to welcome a new guest or checking that another was enjoying him/herself.

Happily, I think everyone had a good time and liked the images! Any tiredness I felt was well worth it!

For more photos from the evening, please click here.

My guide through all this, a Toronto photographer (and teacher) named Rob Davidson who has more than 30 years of experience, had told me that having this exhibition and seeing the reactions of others would change the way I saw my own work. He was completely right.

The moment I hung the final image and stepped back to take it all in – that these were my images, my work on display – I felt… well, overwhelmed. There’s been such doubt in my mind and, far more often than I’d like, in my heart, about whether I was good enough to continue down this road, to call myself a photographer. I’ve always known that the biggest hurdle for me would be to get over the fear of rejection and to show my work publicly, come what may. Whatever the reaction would be, I’ve always known that putting my photography out into the world would wipe away that fear: once you take a step forward, the fear disappears.

There are other fears and there always will be because I’m continually in search of the next challenge, the next opportunity for growth. I’m still searching for the right fit and, in my case, that can involve multiple facets, but I won’t give up. Sometimes it takes (way) longer than I’d like to get over the self doubt, but with experience (and, undeniably, age) comes the knowledge that I’ll get there eventually; something deep down will slowly but surely nudge, prod and, finally, drive me forward.

I’ve learned so much during these months and there’s still a ways to go, but I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do and, in the process, come to see that I am a photographer.

Next post… Peru!

P.S. If you’re in the Toronto area, please drop by the Moniker Gallery this Wednesday, May the 14th at 7pm for the show’s Closing Reception. Spread the word!

P.P.S. Images from the show will be uploaded to my website after the 14th. If you’re interested in receiving this link, please contact me with your email address. 

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New Zealand: A Second Home

In 2006, I left Toronto with a 2-year plan in mind, one that started with living and working in New Zealand for a year, then moving on to Australia to do the same. As most people know and as I came to realize, making plans for travel can, at times, seem like wishful thinking, while making plans for a 2-year travel period is simply absolute nonsense. I ended up staying in the one country and creating a life for myself there.

    Pictures taken with my point-and-shoot in 2006 and 2007

    Ninety-Mile Beach, Northland
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Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
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On the Road – Sunset, QueenstownSunset-Drive-back-to-Queenstown

I miss New Zealand. Or maybe I miss who I was when I was there.

Me at Franz Josef Glacier & at the Tram Lookout in Wellington (2006)

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Me-at-the-Tram-Summit-Look-Out

We fall back into old patterns when we come home. Or at least I do. Relationship patterns, work patterns… behavioural patterns. There are some emotional ties that bind stronger than others.

My time living abroad was the best experience of my life to date and I am drawn back to it often – in memory and in emotion – and with increasing frequency of late. As much as travel is about the interactions without – the people, culture, food, smells and sounds – it is also about the resulting tumult within – the (sometimes) fundamental, intellectual, emotional and psychological effects that leaving your comfort zone can have.

A few years back, I wrote a piece for a publishing contest that talked about this idea of no longer fitting in with the place you’d called home for so long.

What makes a place a home? Is it simply where you were born? Perhaps where your family or friends are? Or is it that place where you feel comfort, safety and familiarity?I could never have been prepared for feeling torn in two, forever missing another place and another family of friends. Nor could I have known how this unquenchable thirst for more – more travel, more exploration, more knowledge – would gnaw at me, intruding far too often when least welcome or expected.”

If you’re interested in the full piece, click here or on the Writing link at the top of the page

It was written with the contest as the stated goal, but in reality, I think it was a way for me to try to answer the question – asked repeatedly and offhandedly – “How was your trip?”. It wasn’t a trip. It was my life for the better part of two years. Am I supposed to be able to sum up two years in a neat little three sentence package? It’s hard to explain to even your closest friends how strange it feels to come ‘home’, to return to the same people, sights and sounds, feeling like a foreigner. I’d visited several websites of people who’d gone home after several years abroad and they all cautioned that re-entry would not be easy; they just didn’t say how or why.

Pictures taken during my return visit in 2011

House Overlooking Matai Bay, Northland
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Matai Bay, Northland

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Long Bay, Auckland

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In the end, I guess I’m still grappling with the real and lingering impacts of that period. I feel like I’m well past the age where I should already know who (and what) I want to be. But then, life and fear get in the way and I’m thrown back into the submerging weight of indecision and uncertainty. The encouraging part is that, eventually, I surface and find my way back to the writing and the photography and the irresistible pull of travel.

What are your stories about returning home after extended time abroad? How did it change you? Or did it?

 

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Follow Your Dreams – Check. Next step?

For this entry, I’m veering of course a little and writing about some of the doubts I’ve experienced about how to do this whole freelance writer, photographer thing and hopefully, do it well. 

So you’ve decided to take the (blind) leap and follow your dreams. Or, more accurately, I have.

It’s true that you feel a certain amount of… liberation once you make the decision. I’m happier, less stressed and less worn out because even when I wasn’t thinking about it consciously, it was always there, in the back of my mind, hovering like a fog around my day to day actions. Also, I know now that I won’t have any regrets in this area when I look back on my life: I never wanted to be 60 and wonder ‘what if’.

But the unavoidable BIG and complicated question follows closely behind: What next? What am I supposed to do to make this venture a success? What’s the right choice? Is there even such a thing?

As a photographer, you need to make your work known. You need people to see it. Does that mean a show or an exhibit? And if so, where? A gallery, a restaurant, a special occasion rental venue? What about trying to submit for newspapers and magazines? What’s the process? How about my own print site where people can order from the site? How do I make people aware of and attract them to the site?

One question inevitably leads to another and then another and then… another. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and a not a little lost. I suppose the trick is to break things down into achievable tasks so you don’t feel like you are facing a giant, nebulous mass of the unknown.

It’s important to stay positive and not get demoralized when things don’t go exactly and as well as you’d imagined they would. Invariably, our brains are wired to let us think the best of ourselves and our abilities and the rosy image you initially see in your head is as unlikely as it is naive. It doesn’t mean you should give up though; I think of it rather as a test of how much you really want to follow through.

Why do we believe the path to success (whatever that means to each of us) should be easy and smooth? The truth is: I’m not afraid of work – I’m afraid of failure. Not the ‘losing the battles’ type of failure, but the ‘losing the war’ failure.

The ‘what ifs’ resound and I do my best to ignore them. I wrote recently that I don’t have the answers and probably never will. I believe that’s true. I think, though, that the solution is to continue moving forward and not think about whether it’s the right or the wrong decision; I can course correct as I go. The point is not to do it perfectly, but to do it.

I choose to believe that I will make my living as a freelance travel writer and photographer.

How do you keep going?

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