Friday, August 28, 2009

Faith and the Art of Taking Risks

I have consciously chosen a career as a working artist. No one pushed me to it, I alone chose my path.

I fully and graciously accept my life as a result of all choices I have made, the defeats I have suffered and the victories won.

That being said, the path of the artist is long and often times difficult path; meandering through the crumbling parched earth of doubt, being cut on the sharp brambles of criticism, both external and internal, squinting through the howling fog of financial insecurity.... anyway you want to describe it, its a journey to be respected.

Eventually though, you begin to find your way. To extend the metaphor further, you learn where to step and where not to step, you learn to wait out storms as opposed to trying to power through them and you realize that there's fellow traveler's out there to help you and guide you...

... but often times as artists we come lose our path and we end up standing on the edge of a huge precipice, a giant yawning chasm of black unknown-ness. Death. Failure.

On the other side of the chasm we can see our path continuing, and it looks so clear and clean, like somebody has swept it. But how to cross the chasm.... there is no bridge. You could go back, thats always an option, but what's back there really?

No, its time to take a risk. Its time to jump.

Only when we jump into that black abyss, into the fear, into the possibility of the unknown do we find what we as artists are made of. Its in this dramatic, faith-filled, insane leap that we grow our wings; long flowing beautiful wings that we never knew we had, wings that will carry us to the other side and set us down on our path again... (or we could fail miserably, hitting the ground in a heap of broken dreams and mushy depression... hence the 'risk' part)

Now this is far from an original analogy, i've read it before but what's more important is that I've experienced it and am experiencing it now.

If we take a step towards our dreams, the universe takes two towards us. Its almost like a law of life, one that we haven't figured out how to measure yet.

one year ago I made a decision. I decided i was going to leave my home town of Vancouver. Vancouver was familiar to me, my family was there, my friends were there, I had a client base there but inside me I felt i was being smothered somehow, as if some latent potential was aching to be brought to light.

Over the years I have become better at listening to that little voice in my head, the one that says "for god's sake, you live once, do it..." So Tonia and I sat down, discussed our future and decided to hit the road.

I had had a dream one night, vivid as can be. I was in India again, practicing yoga, happy, fulfilled. I awoke and I remember thinking to myself; "Bombay, I have to go to Bombay...I don't know why, I just have to." I sold my lighting gear, gave up our apartments, bought a plane ticket to one of the world's most over populated, smelly, dirty but alive cities. We arrived in Bombay knowing one person, a distant friend I hadn't seen in years.

We took a risk, we jumped, but within the universe was listening and gave us wings.

Within six months I had shot some of the biggest Bollywood stars, shot the cover of GQ India, shot for Vogue and an unheard of 22 pages in Harper's Bazaar. I'm working and networking more than I did back home and in an emerging market that's 10 times the size of my sleepy home town.

I think that there are a great many talented photographers in the world and I would be seriously humbled if someone thought I was part of that group, but the fact is, I took a risk...a huge crazy risk that many thought was crazy, including me at times.

So start taking more risks, is my advice. Sure you'll f**k up but life is an art and the more you live it the better you get at it, it just depend on how you want to live it.

peace always...

13 comments:

Tomas said...

Outstanding Martin,

I too, stood at the precipice that you spoke of, since then I moved from England to Finland and pushed my chips all in and began the adventure of transforming a cherished hobby into a business.

'If the flame burns out, go start a fire someplace else.'

Best decision I ever made.
I'm happy, I'm working and most of all there are so many great things to learn around every twist, every bend.

Thanks for the truly inspiring words.

I sincerely wish the very best for you and Tonia.

T.

sweetcorrosion said...

Thank You for that. :)

Sami said...

Great to hear that your move has been a right decision. I'm happy for you.

Would be great to see a behind the scenes -video of an Indian photoshoot ;-)

rfphotoart said...

I don't know what's more beautiful, your latest photos or the words of inspiration. Awesome to see you making such great thing happen but certainly no surprise. You inspire me brother.

jo-jo-san said...

Martin,
we met at an art fundraiser for AIDS at the Waterfall Gallery in False Creek about two summers ago. I was the little blonde with a canary yellow jacket / shiny red bag / and long locks. You took a foto of me there - apparently you didn't like it . . .

anyways - you'll never remember that, but point is I'm really glad that your automated system keeps emailing me these ridiculous updates. The work of Hrithk is fantastic! I am so pleased for you. You really have been very classy through all this not an easy task for some.

point that I'm trying to make is that I took a massive leap twice in the past 13 years. Both I did what I thought was my best and now realize I was only going part way in. Both leaps failed miserably by the end. But I learned the biggest lessons from those two painful experiences.

you make a very good point in what you've said, and I'm glad you did. One might suspect that 'anonymous' up there is just going through what I went through - he's failing. If he's smart he'll study and figure out where he went wrong. Then he'll figure out a newer, better plan and push off again. but then again . . . that takes balls.

I think I have fantastic balls . . . for a chick that is. i think you do too.

best to you both

Brian said...

Martin, please tell your mom to have some guts and stop posting as Anonymous. ;)

Seriously though... you and this article are so inspiring. It's wonderful to follow your journey. Keep living and growing, and I will strive to do the same.

Brian.

sunlovey said...

an "old friend", Siddarth shared your blog with me. LOVE the message of this particular post. Have forwarded it on.

Whencutdeep said...

great read martin...
glad you're enjoying working in India..
if theres one good reason to take risk its just this.. to know that we aren't afraid of f**king up.. we're afraid of what happens after we f**k up! ;)

Keith said...

Martin! Don't forget to visit Vancouver again with your new found glories! Feeling very good for you and your adventure in India! Love those locations!

leenata said...

good going and all the best, martin.

leenata
india

natasha said...

Martin, I am so glad that you got me on your list. I am inspired and a little in awe. I share that faith in the universe, am happy and a litte in awe Love the writing and the photography.enjoy.

vic said...

Thanks Marty. Sometimes you don't even realize that you need to hear words of wisdom from an old friend. you're remarkable.

Vic

Anonymous said...

Martin. Congrats on the move and all your success. One q, I am curious why photographers have to continually defend they are artists, and why commmercial photography/ers is suddenly selling fine art prints like a wedding photographer.

Annie