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.