2013 could count as one of the worst years of my life, personally speaking. In the space of a couple of months, I encountered serious set-backs that still have repercussions for me today. But this blog is not about those losses, nor is it about my personal travails. Instead, I’d I’m here to talk about coming back from those difficulties.
The fact is, negative things that happen in our lives won’t ever really go away. They have an impact, and the scars they leave remain, however much time and emotional distance we put between ourselves and them.
The scars, in my case, have to do with confidence (in my own abilities, in the direction of my life and career, and in the trustworthiness of other). These crises have a way of tearing right through the comfortable veneer you have built, exposing the fundamental insecurities of life.
What, I ask myself even now, have I been doing with my life? What have I achieved, and to what degree have I failed the high expectations I had of myself when I was younger?
The answer, 2013 showed me, was sobering. It was one of disappointment, of opportunities ungrasped, of immense short-sightedness, and of serious errors of judgment.
As someone who has always been fiercely independent (a fact reflected in my approach to photography), 2013 challenged my beliefs of what I was capable of. It showed me the limits and weaknesses that lay within me, and prompted me to start learning to ask for help and co-operation.
Contradictorily, it also confirmed for me the absolute importance of being individually self-sustaining. I learned, beyond doubt, that I had to be comfortable and confident with myself, despite the flaws and failures so evident within me. Because when push comes to shove, nobody else really cares, or can attain a full understanding and acceptance of another individual.
Yes, there is such a thing as luck. Yes, there are open doors. But no one will open the doors that you do not first unlock. No one will be your champion if you do not take those first steps. No one will give you things that you do not ask, beg, and work for.
In coming to such an understanding, I channelled my anger and sadness into creativity. Photography, for me, is no longer about simply taking photos. It’s a way of expressing myself, an outlet for dead and dying dreams.
As a result of 2013, my resolution is strengthened. I have become much more ruthless in my pursuit of my goals. On some days, when it seemed like everything was working against me in my quest to get certain tasks done, instead of resigning myself to “Que Sera, Sera”, as if some immutable force like fate or destiny was preventing me from attaining my goal, I now fight with everything at my disposal to overcome those obstacles.
In 2013, I started stepping outside of my bounds of comfort. I grabbed opportunities, and worked with new people. Beyond simply being a technically competent photographer, I realised the importance of taking on roles equivalent to a Creative Director and Production Manager.
I did notice a decrease in cosplay shooting, as a maturing landscape of cosplay photographers in Sydney and retiring/semi-retiring cosplayers within the circle I work in reduced the number of shoot I participated in. All in all, however I can count 75 cosplay shoots executed in 2013 (give or take 5, since that number includes conventions).
2013 saw an increase in conceptual/fashion shoots, whether I acted as Creative Director in coming up with concepts and executing them, or working for another person who took on the directorial role.
I also saw a slight increase in commercial work, though insufficient to be considered a professional. In all, I undertook 25 shoots in the concept/fashion/commercial categories.
For those keeping count, that means an approximate total of 100 shoots in 2013. A nice round number, I must say.
I don’t believe in making resolutions for the New Year. Rather, I make resolutions on a fairly regular basis and I do my best to come through on them. So in a way, 2014 for me is on a time spectrum in which I will continue to do what I am already on a path to do so.
I am continually inspired by the work of photographers around the world (current, and long-running favourites hail from Japan, although China and Taiwan are home to some crazy talent), and so I continue to work on distilling the creative intent behind the works I admire, and apply my own approach to execute my visions.
I will continue to look out for opportunities, both creative and commercial, and execute them with rugged determination.
This post wouldn’t be complete without thanking all the cosplayers, models, makeup artists, stylists and anyone else who has given me a chance in 2013. I honestly enjoyed every shoot, even the most gruelling ones, the ones which involved actual hard work to get the results we wanted. In fact, those shoots might have been the best.
And my especial thanks to my few friends who, in my darkest moments of doubt, have supported me, and given me new direction and reinvigorated my resolve – I do not share much of my personal feelings, so you might never know what effect your words have had on me, but I hold them dear.