Sunday Thoughts

When you start feeling that your passion and dream-job is becoming an obligation then something's going wrong. I've always loved art expression; my mom and dad were commercial photographers, my grandfather is part of the film industry, my great grandfather composed “el Condor Pasa” and my husband is a sound designer. I've always been surrounded by great images, creative people and artistic environments, and as it was expected, I decided to follow the same path. Studying and understanding light is a marvellous adventure that has always been in front of us but not everyone is aware of it. We can see because of the light but cannot actually see the light, as the Petit Prince said "essentials are invisible to the eyes"

Lately, things have changed and I've been feeling quite disappointed about where the world has taken us. We are living an era in which we have access to everything at the tip of our fingers and we are loosing the meaning and importance of things. We scroll our Instagram feeds at a hundred miles per hour and we don't actually SEE anything, we don't spend more than 2 seconds in a photo and we lost the curiosity behind every image. We don't wonder how the person behind the camera was feeling when he pressed the button, we are not curious about what happened in his head right before the click, we don't question how much time he spent or how many shots he took before feeling satisfied with the result, we don't care about his speed and aperture settings, his lens or how he composed the image. For most people it's just a click that everyone can do with an iPhone. For a real photographer it's a lot more than that, it's magic, an ephemeral moment that will never come back and thousands of decisions in a second that won't bring second chances, if you loose a great shot you just lost an unrepeatable moment forever.

As in many other artistic professions there are tough decisions you gotta take to be able to live out of what you love, either struggle to be considered an "artist" (selling your art for a decent price that will give you enough economic stability to make it sustainable) OR jump into the fierce battle of advertising, charging for expressing other people’s ideas. After graduating as Advertising Executive nearly a decade ago, it was pretty obvious that I was going to use photography as an advertisement tool. The problem comes when you stop enjoying what you love because you’re stressed out about making it sustainable, starting to look at the “price” of your work and not at the “value” of it. There’s nothing more difficult to do than putting a price to your passion (even when you'll never end up liking your creations. Only an artist will understand this) but it doesn’t end up there, after establishing a reasonable price for your work, you have to convince people that it is actually worth it. Why paying that much to a photographer if my 15 year old daughter can do it with her phone? I only have one answer to that: QUALITY. Some people don’t seem to realize that there’s a BIG difference between a photo by a professional photographer who knows what he’s doing and an amateur that happened to take a good shot because the camera took all the difficult decisions for him. Apparently some small businesses are willing to pay this difference for a family portrait but not for advertising their business. Isn’t it a priority to expose the business that brings food to your table with the best photos possible? Or is it more important to have a nice profile photo for Facebook?

It’s true that when you live out of what you love, you’ll never “work" in your life, but sometimes it can be difficult to balance love and money. I’ve lived in 3 different countries so far and gone from the bottom to the top several times. I managed to be production coordinator for a TV Commercials studio, I worked as official staff photographer for a culinary magazine and I covered several gastronomic/sport events in different countries. Now, I'm surviving thanks to a part-time job at a cute little store.  Maybe it’s this city, maybe it’s the difficult situation in my country that forced me to get away or maybe it’s all in my head, but I can say that where I am now has been the most difficult place to fit in, beside the different language and harsh weather, it’s a complicated culture to adapt to and I realized that it is making me loose the motivation, spark and power to create. I'm worrying too much about explaining and educating people how to value an image in a place where no one apparently wants to learn. I love what I do and I will continue loving it forever, but I will rather stop doing it as my “job” for a while than giving it for almost nothing to people that won’t value it for what it means to me. This is a dream and a career too, we invested money and time studying as in every other career, we manage to get the best equipment we can and we practice A LOT to continue growing, learning and expanding our knowledge. I might sound old school or attached to the past but I liked better the society in which I grew up. We were more human and less technology-addicted.

I’m not saying that I will quit pursuing my dreams of being a great commercial photographer, I’m just saying that I’ll put them on hold for a while, I will stop the pressure I’m applying to myself and I will focus on art instead of business, I will stop trying to explain to people the power of a good photo to promote a business, I won’t send any more emails or make anymore phone calls, I won’t keep pushing and fighting to get “in-business” here. I decided to focus on what I truly enjoy and continue capturing beauty for my personal joy. I know I’m not the best photographer around, there are millions better than me and that’s why I’ll continue studying and practicing and practicing and practicing. I will keep on looking for a mentor/god/guru photographer to work with and learn from. I’ll also dedicate my energy to the hundred personal projects I left on hold trying to advertise myself and I'll take the word "exposure" out of my system. I will go back to my roots, where I was fully enjoying what I do without worrying about how many hours it took me and how much should I charge for that piece of my soul. I won’t stop, I will only do things differently. I’ll change my strategy and I’ll do what I like. I’ll take a middle-age break and redesign my goals. I’ll embrace change from another perspective and no matter what, I’ll always choose happiness over money!!!

I know only a few will read this, if any, because it’s too long and has no pictures in between... honestly, it doesn't matter, I just want to leave it flying in the cyberspace as a memory of my 30 year old me in this cold-grey-snowy “spring” Sunday in London (Ontario).

Alieska RoblesComment