Barrier to the Beauty~
Hello Gentle Readers. Continuing my theme this week of sharing photographs I’ve made since I arrived in Los Angeles last year, Barrier to the Beauty, is what I would call a found image. I was walking through a parking lot outside a venue where I was photographing an event that evening. One of those moments when my head was full of thinking about the light inside, whether I could use anything other than my fastest lens, wondering if I should have brought my monopod so I could shoot with a slower shutter speed… when I looked up for a moment.
The cliché phrase, stopped me in my tracks, became a literal thing. It was one of those skies just after sunset that is so beautiful to your eyes, you wonder whether your camera can properly capture it. Vivid colors in that wonderful evening spectrum of light. All juxtaposed by this sharp, violent, man-made barrier atop a brick wall, right between me and this amazing sky.
We’ve been hearing a lot about walls these days.
But instead of writing about that proposed wall, this photograph means something else entirely to me.
We all have to deal with physical barriers from time to time.
Authorized Personnel Only.
But most of us, myself included, build a lot of mental walls that can prevent us from getting to a place of our own happiness. Our own beauty.
When I made this photograph, I was struggling with a few of those mental walls. Which is another reason I was suddenly stopped in my tracks in that parking lot. It was a physical manifestation of something I was feeling inside me in that moment.
Even though I was very excited with my relocation to LA last year, there were parts of my life where I was still struggling to find my footing. I knew one of the reasons I decided to pack up and start fresh with new and sunnier scenery, was that after a half century of living, and 30 years of that making my photographic art, I was craving some reinvention in it.
Events of the past couple of years, a few brushes with my own mortality and the death of both of my parents in 2016, were just a few things that were driving me to want to create something new. There had been a lot of loss recently and a lot to mourn. I had decided to move my art in a direction of something more raw and revealing about myself than I have previously expressed before.
Yet I struggled with how exactly to do that. Part of it was fear. Letting go of what I thought people expected me to create. Finding collaborators that would be willing to go along with what would certainly, at least at the start, be an experiment into the unknown of a new direction in my art. A leap into the artistic abyss.
I had already started to slowly inject a different kind of humanity in my work the past year. A hint maybe of what was to come. Nothing that a casual viewer might notice, but something I could begin to see in the recent images I was making. The first steps in a long journey of discovery. With miles to go before I found what I was looking for. But that’s how every journey begins- with a first step.
Over a year ago, in Los Angeles, but before I moved here, I had an inspiring lunch conversation with my wonderful photographer friend, Steve Diet Goedde. We were talking about the evolution of our work. And he mentioned that he had started a personal project a year earlier, and one that he decided he would quietly work at without putting any of it out into the public view. After a year, he told himself he’d evaluate what he’d created and only then decide whether to put it out there or not. And eventually, he did.
That struck me as a brilliant way to experiment and reinvent. We’re all so used to the instantaneous sharing of life these days. Whether it’s a photo of what we’re having for lunch, or something more artistic and meaningful, it seems there’s a race to constantly be sharing what we’re doing almost immediately after it happens. Yet, Steve’s idea of creating and holding back and giving his project time to mature, really resonated with me. It’s not really a new concept, a long term project. But it was a way of working I had forgotten about.
There’s something beautifully generous about giving yourself the opportunity to create out of the glare of judgment, perceived or otherwise. Allowing time to grow something. In a kind of solitude. See where the path takes you without any pressure to be amazeballs!!!, right out of the gate. It’s a gift we should all give ourselves from time to time.
And so I will continue to navigate over my own walls. Stop being afraid to try new things. Give myself permission to experiment, reveal, explore, fail, try again. There is very likely beauty, knowledge, awareness and inspiration I can’t yet imagine on the other side. A new part of me is waiting on the other side.
It’s time to dismantle some of my own walls and barriers. Long past time.