Hey guys. My dog Russ and I are on a road trip. Atlanta to Cali and back. We're meeting up with friends along the way and sharing pictures with everyone. Here's where I am now. 🤓👍🏻
The crew from last year's NYC meetup.
This creative community is powerful. It's changed my life. I've met people who inspire me. People who make me feel like I'm not alone. Like I am loved. Not because I look like I'm expected to, or say what I'm suppose to, but because I am strong enough, crazy enough, to honestly be who I am. No games.
I am very grateful for the experience of these three plus years. An experience that came to me unexpectedly through little, low res pictures.
I'm grateful, but to be honest I'm also a bit concerned.
I am naturally introverted. To a fault. And I'm concerned that I might have a tendency to loose the big picture in the stream of shiny images and pleasant comments. Bare with me and I'll try and explain.
The truly powerful thing happening here is not about pictures at all, but about friendships. So I don't want to settle for platitudes or niceties. Here's the hard truth. It is sometimes very tempting for me to take the praise in but still keep to myself. I call it hermit mode. :-) a
And hermit mode is not a good place for me.
Can you relate? If we're not careful, social media is kind of like "relationship junk food" isn't it? Tastes great. . . but not much substance really.
So this week I'm gonna make the time to buy someone a drink instead of liking their picture. I'm going to make an effort to go deeper than a three sentence comment. I'm not going let the hermit win. ;-).
I don't want to loose sight of the big picture. Because, in the end, if this thing is going to work, it's not really about the pictures. It's not about an app. It's not about a quick little digital boost to our egos.
It's about really connecting. It's about friendships.
Things have changed. This one time, SLR camera nerd, is now surprisingly comfortable shooting small, square, images with my phone. And, in the end, I guess I'm ok with lowering the pixel count of my jpgs. :-). But I DON'T EVER want to be ok with low resolution friendships. In the end, that's the big picture. That's what's worth while. Isn't it?.
Thats a quote above from a great article I read a while back. It's a feature of the iPhone photojournalism of @michaelchristopherbrown in Digital Photo Pro Magazine. http://www.digitalphotopro.com/technique/camera-technique/iphone-photojournalism.html.
At the @planetagram conference in brazil, @kevinkuster gave a great talk on what I guess I'd call "artistic self image". We hear this all too often. . . "I love the #JJ community. The pictures inspire me but I'm not a "photographer" or anything. I only shoot on my phone and I'm pretty new at this. I don't know the difference between an f-stop and a bus stop to be honest".
Lets just get this out of the way guys.
In my opinion this makes about as much sense as being proud or ashamed of your writing skills based on your intimate knowledge of pen technology.
Things are changing. Creativity is more accessible now than at any other time in history and I'm stoked. If you've charged your phone and you're passionate about taking pictures, you've got everything you need to make compelling images. In fact many accomplished pro photographers are choosing the same phone you carry everyday as their preferred tool for some jobs.
@michaelchristopherbrown thinks so. Who are we to argue? ;-).
Happy last week of summer vacation everyone! :-). Kind if sad huh? Miss Miranda and I are sucking Icee's at the water park today. But that's not the kind of "Suck" I'm talking about today in my journal entry though. Have you given yourself permission to fail? You should. Here's three reasons why I think failing quick and often is a critical part of the creative process.
1. PERFECTION WASTES YOUR TIME- The more ideas you try. . . angles, lighting, different exposures. . . the better your chances of finding that killer pic. If something just doesn't seem to be working, let it go and move on to the next thing.
2. FEAR OF FAILURE IS EXHAUSTING- Did you know that your brain, your thinking machine, uses up 20% of your energy. 100 watts. Relative to its size it's an energy hog. Thinking is hard work and you've only got so much energy to give. If you're using up your brain power worrying about the next shot or regretting your last you'll not be able to see the possibilities right in front of you.
3. YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY WHEN YOU TRY BUT FAIL- In one of Fred Astaire's first screen tests, an executive wrote: "Can't sing. Can't act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little." Albert Einstein was a terrible student and Edison tried and failed literally 100's of times on the lightbulb. It seems failing is actually integral to genius. Don't run from it. Big mistake. :-).
Don't you love the happy accidents? That over exposed shot that ends up giving your image a surprising, warm, even ethereal glow. Or maybe the oops snap that came after the "CHEEEESE"? The shot that maybe missed his perfect smile but captured your rascal nephew, sneaking a finger into the frosting on the cake.
It's all about authenticity I think. That hard to define, but easy to spot, "something" that just feels real. That special piece, that feels REALLY true and genuinely beautiful. I love those pictures.
It's been at least a year or so and I can't remember the details of the discussion, but maybe it's just as well. ;-). Miranda was upset at the thought of being embarrassed about something in front of her best friend. The dreaded, fill in the blank, hadn't happened, but "What if!?!?" A pretty common 6 or 7 year old situation I'd guess. :-).
I remember I thought it through and I was pretty proud of the my wise and fatherly response. I let her know that, it's ok to be vulnerable. In fact, it was very important. I explained that sharing our flaws is actually what endears us to each other and helps us to trust each other. She listened tearfully. . . but then, of course, let me know that "I just didn't understand". :-). So much for my Father Knows Best ending. ;-).
I can't say I blame her for being skeptical. It's taken me almost 40 years to learn how beautiful life's flaws are. . . both in our relationships and our pictures.
Ever had times in your life when you just wanted to rest? Not your body as much as your mind. To feel OK. For just for a little while? I'm sure you have, at least from time to time. And I suspect, like me, some of you have felt "just a little off", almost every minute of your lives? I've come to think of that feeling as "the itch".
Maybe if you've not been consistently in that place you can't understand and maybe if you have always lived there it's as normal a feeling as being hungry. Maybe that's why we don't talk about the itch much. But I think what I call "The Itch" is a fascinating part of the human experience. I honestly believe it's probably the feeling that most shapes our world. I believe "the itch" influences history and the people who shape it. Shapes history for good and bad, probably more than any other force out there.
That's why, in my experience, the constant nudge of the itch a mixed blessing. Maybe you can understand? No one could say the itch is pleasant. But on the other hand, the itch makes you move doesn't it? Uncomfortable changes things. It's why I create stuff.
What is my "itch". My itch is as simple as that incessant feeling that makes me bounce my leg when I talk to you. Ever had a back ache and found yourself constantly shifting in your chair? Mix that with the state of mind, right when you wake up. Before you get your coffee. Foggy. Not clear. Like the last thing in the world you would enjoy is a crossword puzzle or long division. Maybe it's like that, but in my mind. Some times it's barely there, but sometimes it's like that's all there is. Deep down the itch is as simple as that uncomfortable feeling, but it's also largely responsible for the complicated structure of the story of me. My personality. Looking back it's obvious, living with the itch played a big part in making me who am. That uncomfortable feeling heavily influenced the long chain of events that wrote the story I constantly tell myself that I am. The parts of the story I like and the parts I dont.
Distracting and uncomfortable as it is, my itch is part of the best pieces of the "Me" story I tell myself. The kind hearted guy, who usually experiences relationships in the moment. A warm, if "flaky", friend that doesn't take things personally or hold a grudge. Truthfully? Between giving his kid 100% and trying to remember to take out the trash, he's too distracted to really remember that meanish thing you said when you were a little upset yesterday.
In my head's story, he's an adventurous guy, willing to throw caution to the wind for an opportunity or passion. Truthfully, that's just the redemptive side of impulsive. Win the bet you're a hero. Loose the bet you're a deadbeat.
My itch is also responsible for one of my favorite parts of me. The reason I'm here on Instagram. The part of me that makes stuff. The part that is unsettled. That needs to change the world. . . just to see if maybe I'll finally reach the itch. The itch pushes me to create.
But my itch is also responsible for the the other parts of my "story of me" too. The times I'm not at my best. In my worst moments that guy in the story calls himself irresponsible, lazy and weak.
Living with the itch, distracted by the constant urge to do something, anything to feel better, has some times lead me to places I'm not proud of. At times I've let people down. I've failed to accomplish things I value. I've been places I never want to be again. I've been in deep debt. I've been divorced. I've been in jail. Real world stuff. Crappy stuff. The itch is real.
So what really is the itch? Childhood trauma? Ehhh. . . not really. Not for me at least. Maybe a spiritual deficit? I don't think so. Not anymore at least. I worried about that for a long time, that I needed to have more faith, but I've decided to lay that cross down. . . so to speak. If advising I need your religion to feel better is your inclination, I guess you'll have to be the one to judge me either way. All I can say is I'm nothing if not earnest. So if trying harder to believe was what I needed, I'm guessing God will cut me some slack. I wanted to believe. I tried to have faith. Life would have been a lot easier if I could have stayed. But that's a whole other story. ;-).
In the end, this itch, the ever present feeling that has so heavily effected me and largely made me who I've become, comes down to something pretty simple I think. Not enough dopamine in my brain.
The more time I spend being me, the more I live in my brain and watch how it works and see it respond to meds, the less personal I take things. The less attached I feel to my thoughts and emotions. I have come to believe, at its core, having "the itch" could be compared to something as common as a ragweed allergy. As simple as being lactose intolerant.
For better or worse, I was lucky to be born with a stomach that can enjoy as much Cherry Garcia as I like. I was just lucky to have the genes for a standard issue stomach. My brain works different than most however.
My doctor calls it ADD and depression, but do me a favor and forget that part if you can for a second. I'd rather you focus on my story. Try and understand my experience. Please don't skip the story, my experience, because you think you already know what those labels mean.
And here's the thing, I know I'm not the only one. If you don't really understand, someone you love does. If you want to understand. If you want to help your kid. Maybe if you want to create effective policies in your school or write legislation in your state that helps make positive change, you need to understand our itch. Our experience.
Does that make you uncomfortable? Is it all too simple? Could it be that one person is born with lactose intolerance and usually can't eat Dairy Queen and the other, born with ADD has to struggle not ending up in jail. I get it. I want to the decisions in the "story of me" to be more important. I want things that seem as fundamental as character and free will to be more under my control. There's got to be a lot more to me than the wiring between my ears right? Well. . . personally. . . I'm leaning towards no.
Hard to hear I know. But here's the good news. Here's my experience. When I just sit with that crazy thought for a moment. The idea that it's not all so damn personal. When I don't run from that part of me that's afraid to let go. The part that is convinced it needs to be important or die. In these occasional times that I can take my mind to that space. . .
I get that rest I've wanted. When I can step back and see my mind as one more piece of the story of me I'm free.
If the heavy thoughts aren't "Me". If the feelings aren't "Me". If the dark emotions aren't "Me". If the genes that made the itch, that ever present itch that without a doubt, influenced a big part of who I am. If the itch and all it's become are just a part of the story. . . then I can finally rest a little. I can put down the heavy baggage I've picked up along the way. And that feels good.
Will that went somewhere I wasn't expecting! :-). You might not have ADD but I'd be willing to bet you have baggage too. Do what's your "itch"? And ask yourself, how much energy does it take to carry it through your day? I have a feeling we never really leave that baggage behind to be honest, but maybe we can learn to put it down from time to time.
You're here on my account, read through this huge caption because you're like me. You want to create. So again, how much energy does it take to live with your version of the itch everyday? What if the impulse to make things doesn't have to be found in a place that's quite so exhausting. Ask yourself, what could you create if you took a break? If we learn to be more present, could we find there is actually something of a "good itch"? :-).
Without the baggage, what could you discover? Who could you meet? What could you create?.
Let me know. I've told you my experience so far. That's all I've ever got to share. I'd love to hear your experience too. Better yet. Show me. Take a pictures of your experience. Show me. See it was a photo tip after all! ;-).