Fear and photography (it happens)

I’m sitting at my computer and having a one-sided argument. The computer is not doing what I want it to do and all I feel is despair. I am organising my files that will eventually become prints, that will eventually be the exhibition that will be on show to thousands of people next week. And things aren’t going my way. After several hours of snail-like progress I leave my little studio and get the train home. My body feels so heavy and I am seriously freaked out. When I get home my wife and son immediately fall on me with hugs – I must have looked really miserable!

And in those wonderful dark hours of night, when there is no light to reassure, I think about the commitments I’ve made to sponsors and supporters that will be destroyed if I don’t get this right. The project that took me several months of shooting to create, that so many people have got behind, written about, supported, cheered on …. it will all be for nothing.

The next morning I’m woken by my daughter loudly proclaiming she needs me to get up so I can take her to school so that after school she gets to go on a playdate with a new friend. She is commanding. I enjoy her confidence. As we rush through the morning rain to the beautiful little hippy-school she goes to, in acres of green that is so relaxing to experience on a daily basis, I start to think through my computer problems in a different way, and slowly the pieces fall into place – so that by the time I am back in the studio I have come up with the start of a solution.

The goal of perfect prints is getting closer. I can take a small breath.

This is just one of the many, many moments in this life of being a photographer – artist – creative entrepreneur even. I find myself often walking on the edge of a precipice on the far reaches of my comfort zone. Everything that happens in this work is created by Di and myself. And if I mess it up, there is no safety net, no one to bail me out. We are living by our wits alone.

I am talking about this because maybe you are not facing the exact same challenges with your creativity as I am – but many of us get gripped by fear and don’t move on with our photography because, consciously or unconsciously, we are afraid of taking the step into the unknown.

And I am here to say – the fear may never go away, so if that’s the case, just get on and do it. Maybe you want to:

  • Ask for feedback on your work
  • Enter the competition
  • Ask that interesting looking stranger to pose for a portrait
  • Make that book
  • Be reminded of how to shoot on manual – again

It doesn’t matter what the goal is, the overwhelming fear of failing, feeling stupid, not being good enough – etc. etc. is the same. But if you don’t take that leap off the cliff – do you know what will happen? Something way, way way worse than fear.

Regret.

Regret is a thousand times more powerful than fear. Because fear is temporary. It’s like a gust of wind or fog. You’re in it, you do what you’re fearful of and it magically blows away. Like it’s never even been there. Regret, though, burrows into your soul and infects your bloodstream, and is almost impossible to get rid of. Let’s not go there!

A shadow on Galata Bridge

So I am back at my studio, I am plugging away, bringing all this work that I’ve done over the past year, taking my photos from my computer and camera – and I am bringing it out into the world for the start of a journey. More exhibitions, a book etc. This will bring much exhilaration and satisfaction, I know – when it’s done.

My wife always suggests that instead of fighting fear I just let it hang out and be there. And so for the next several days it’ll be me and fear, sharing my studio, until it gets bored by my acceptance and goes off to haunt some other establishment.

I am incredibly proud of the work that I have done in Istanbul, but more than that I just love the city for welcoming me so warmly, for all the friends I made there, for the people who made my journeys so interesting and funny and wonderful. I want to make the people who helped me proud. And I want to say ‘stay strong Istanbul’.

So two more things today. This very project is being shown next week – in case you hadn’t noticed with my incessant talking about it – and I would love for you to be part of it.

It is beyond amazing having you all be part of the Cities at Dawn community. We really appreciate all of the support you have given us over the years. None of the work that Di and I do would be possible without the enthusiasm and interest of so many people, so we thank you so very, very much.

If you are in London next Wednesday we’d love for you to visit the show and if you can please share the exhibition details with anyone you know who likes photography, it’s running until June 28th. The exhibition details are here.

I’d love to know what you think of the project, as always feel free to email us if you have any questions/thoughts/ideas – or comment on my blog.

Have a wonderful day.

And happy photographing!

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