When all else fails…

Thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder why the last thing I do when I’m struggling with something is to look up (aka pray). Why can’t it be the first thing? I mean, c’mon, I know I can’t do anything decent on my own because of just how much I’ve mucked things up, so I should be thinking three steps ahead, not three steps behind. This goes for everything I do, not just in life, but in my hobbies as well; I guess it’s just the fallen nature in me that doesn’t think things quite through. It’s sad when I see that others are suffering and I’m the one thinking that woe is me; I’m NOT judging anyone but myself in this (it’s happened a few times to me and a certain instance has brought this topic to mind).

- Lynn Canyon Rapids -
– Lynn Canyon Rapids –

The things that I’ve seen around me makes me wonder what on earth I’m doing to deserve even another chance, let alone a second chance, but that’s just the depressing voice in my mind. I’m not going to dwell on it, just take it for what it is and then try to make something of it that might just turn into something of worth to someone…It comes down to inspiration with me. Do I think I’m there yet? Maybe, but I’m going to keep trying. It’s kind of like what Winston Churchill said about success: Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. I’ve just got to say that we’ve got to rethink what success really means because I sure don’t think it’s about things or how we’re feeling at the moment, but it’s about reaching out to others and walking with them, inspiring them, and confiding in them. I just have to say this: If you ever feel like nothing’s worth it, seek out help, especially that of a good, solid counselor that can show you that life is worth it. That’s what I love about the Good Charlotte song, Hold On: it’s about not giving up, because it will get better.

We’re going to fail & fall flat on our faces, wondering what’s going on with us, but the key is to NOT give up; it’s a message I’ve got to keep reminding myself of daily…And yes, it is worth it, even if we don’t see it at first. We’re at the point that we need to learn from our failures and move forward, not dwell on them or get more things to fill our time up with the shallowness of materialism. This all is just my take on things and my way of ranting out my thoughts on the matter.

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Good people…

I’m probably gonna take some flak naming this one after the Jack Johnson song of the same name, but I was thinking that “Where have all the good people gone?” is a question well asked because it seems, like the song implies, that we’re all missing the ‘good’ people. We’ve all got something else on our minds besides what the Creator wants for us, myself included, that we’ve let most, if not all, decency go from society. I mean, we can see it from the sensationalist headlines found on CNN (along with reused & staged footage) to the crap being spewed on every side of the spectrum. Just look at how easily we get swayed by the headlines when they are sensational instead of simply telling something simple about the story.

There’s little soul left in the news media that isn’t over-hyped, little else than shallow lyrics in pop music, and politics is whole different can of worms; I’m more than guilty of this in my photography & life, so I’m preaching just as much to myself as anyone else. What & where this really gets to me, outside of the mainstream, is in photography where everything seems to be about the latest gear and the latest technique where people show off how they do something without actually saying anything through the image at all. To a certain extent, we need to stop looking for good people when there’s plenty of change we can do right here & now by not moaning about where we’re at right now and try to inspire & help others.

- Looking Up -
– Looking Up –

I’m definitely not perfect and I’m not trying to preach aloud, but I’m beginning to wonder if what we need is a little art in our lives to help us brighten up the lives of those around us, not just ourselves…We need to become as close to the good people as we can, but we can’t do it without the Creator’s help. Doing something that means something to someone might just include just being there for them, talking to them about life & faith, or even just listening to them. Find someone and try to be a friend to them and understand what they’re going through by just listening to them at first; then let the friendship grow from there.

Respectfully…

Sometimes, it gets a bit much, society telling us who we should be & what we should be doing to get what job that society wants us to get, with governments telling us what we should think. I get that it’s not so obvious here in North America, but I’m tired of the somewhat subversive nature in the mainstream media; there isn’t a day that goes by that people who lost the election tell us what to think and those that won the election tell us what to think (I’m referring to the American elections & the recent BC elections here). The media is so full of it when they say that things have to improve now because of who won (BC elections) or how bad it’s going to be because of who lost (US elections). The last time I checked, there’s still a job to do for each of us and bills to pay; what really bugs me is when politicians & the media start to interfere in what we believe…Why was there little to no coverage of the Coptic Christians that were killed simply because of their beliefs in Egypt and so much coverage of a supposed split in the presidential couple? What’s going on with us that we’ve let it come to the point that outlets like CNN can muck around with photography in their stories, misrepresenting the facts in protests? I, personally think that it’s come this far because we’ve let the politics get in the way of what we really believe.

Looking at how society has morphed into this beast that shows no signs of slowing down, I can’t help but wonder at how crazy it’s gotten, all because we, myself included, have gone after the next paycheck instead of trying to help and/or inspire the person that’s really hurting right next to me. In the 80s & 90s, it was about the flashiest stuff and it hasn’t really changed at all, just on the surface of it all, being repackaged as the newest, next best thing, all with some new styling that seems to make us think that it’s different. Looking at how I think I’ve progressed in life, and photography, I hope I’ve gotten better, but hindsight isn’t always right immediately; I remember watching a podcast on photography where the challenge was to engage in a personal project that would take up a few months to help us grow and I can’t help but think that sometimes working through it is the best way to go. So, I took the challenge and I’m learning to really think about what I’m doing; now I just have to get progression in how I’m doing otherwise, growing as well.

So, to the politicians & mainstream media out there, I’ve got to say, respectively, forget you, because I’m going to try to work with others instead of worrying about the superficial crap that you want me to worry about. I’m going to start trying to inspire & comfort others instead of just worrying about myself and what society thinks of me. If I fail, I’m just trying to go about doing my best and I hope that at the end of it all, I’ve helped/inspired at least one person.

What gets me…

…Is the complete over-insistence on what society wants from us instead of the desire & need to inspire others. I mean, c’mon, when did we get so hung up on methodology & certain lists that we forget about the others around us that ARE hurting that we CAN help? I’ve certainly screwed this up so many times that, when I see others do it, it reminds me of my own shortcomings and literally gets me frustrated, to say the least. Shouldn’t we just learn to slow it down & listen, let alone trying to do it all on our own? I’ve failed on this so many times that I’m quite literally talking to myself here as well.

In photography (yes, it’s that rant again), it’s become all about that latest piece of tech or how famous we’ve become through how many shots we’ve sold. In life, it’s become about that latest thing we’ve got & what shiny new toy we’ve got, but have we really thought about how shallow it’s making us? I’m just venting here, but I’m beginning to think that we need to forget about the megapixels and focus on the meaning & the inspiration behind the shot or the person. Like the mainstream media, we’re so hung up getting the most clicks that we’re just doing things that don’t really go very deep at all…And before I’m labeled an alt-right nut, I’d like to point out that the alt-right stuff disgusts me just as much as the regular person. I’m just as tired, as the next person, of being flooded with all the sensationalist crap coming from the CNN & Fox outlets out there, so I’m beginning to really look at this with a grain of salt…It’s just that the proverbial grain of salt is getting much bigger these days.

So, while this might seem a bit winded coming from me, I’m beginning to see that venting, in a decent way, is slowly becoming a way to relieve all the pent-up frustrations I’ve got. Who cares if we’ve got the latest stuff or if we’re rooting for the most likely person to succeed? I’d rather root for the underdog who’s trying to make it through with a bit of humility because, to me, that’s being a bit more real than the favorite.

Anyone else but me…

One of the best songs, that I’ve heard in a long time, about modern society, is Hokus Pick’s Anybody Else But Me and it’s pure genius. It’s a satirical look at people wanting to be anyone else but themselves and it’s awesome, not just because they’re Canadian; sorry America, we got this one because you’ve got your teams on the Stanley Cup way too many times. We’re so focused on being famous or at least someone of noteworthiness, that we lose our uniqueness in the process. In photography, as in life, that means copying someone else’s vision, techniques, methods & beliefs blindly.

While I’ve read a lot & learnt how some really gifted professionals work through their craft, their photographs, and the way they make them, are uniquely theirs…Or at least they really should be. Forever a tinkerer, I’m going to be tinkering with the methods & ways I tweak my photographs and I’ll learn along the way, not just through my mistakes, but I’ll learn from the professionals as well; they’ve written many a book about their craft, so it’s a no-brainer using the knowledge they have to impart to help myself to grow as well. When it comes to life, we’re not out to imitate, but to grow as the Creator’s meant us to grow; we’re meant to look upwards, not downwards or horizontally…We’re not called to copy one another, but to imitate the perfect example the Creator was for us. Sometimes we’re given a feeling/impulse of what we’re supposed to do, sometimes it’s in our daily readings, and sometimes it’s in how we’re working that we’re given guidance.

Photography, compared to every other art, is so much younger than the others, but why is it that imitation is seen as flattery & striving for meaning not as important? I mean, come on, we’re not all drones or Borg here. There’s just so much out there to photograph, so that doesn’t mean we’ve got to copy others’ photographs or even their methods, but just learn from them…The same goes for life itself. It’s all in how we try not to be anybody else but ourselves…In the way we’re supposed to be.

Looking back…

Most of the time we think of progression as never looking back, and I completely agree with that; we’re supposed to run as if we’re going for the prize. There is one thing with that however, it doesn’t mean forgetting others, not learning from the past, or even ignoring how what we do affects others. Looking back then is, for me, seeing how what I’m doing to help/inspire others, something I’ve fallen short on so many times. When it comes to looking back, I’m thinking more of how to reflect on what I’ve learnt over the years, but not dwelling on it as if it’s the be-all, end-all; looking back is for other things than how we’re running in this race called life…Like how our hobbies are doing & how they’re affecting us.

Thinking about how we go about our hobbies, there’s the idea that they are just done for fun, but I think that there’s more to it than that; it’s about learning to love what we enjoy doing and, for the arts in particular, it’s about learning & growing. There’s a satirical saying that if a parent doesn’t want their children into drugs, then they should get them into photography because they won’t be able to afford drugs…It’s meant to be humorous, but it’s got quite a bit of truth to it because it can get really expensive and then the fun & joy can easily be drained out of it; then it’s no fun at all. We need to be looking back & learning in our hobbies, or they just might become stale & next to useless; this might not be true of all hobbies, but I’m thinking it’s true of most of them out there (i.e. if reading is a hobby, then we learn as we read). Through this, we can then inspire others…How, I’m not sure, but I’m trying.

Looking back is good for learning, but looking back & falling back doesn’t quite work out that well because we can easily forget what we’re aiming for by becoming complacent. As for everything else, moderation is king (as well as context), and I’m often far from it most times, but trying to get there’s a struggle, but one quite worth it. There’s something to be said for moderation in these days of extremes…I may just be ranting at this point, but looking back with moderation just makes sense. Look back, but do it with care!

Hollywood…

Modern society & culture nowadays is oversaturated by mostly superficial things that it’s not really any better than high fructose corn syrup. I say this because, looking at what’s out there, it’s mostly completely superficial & focused on the idea of the individual & self-improvement, or self-actualization. Initially, that’s not entirely wrong, but when it becomes the center of all that we are, then it’s a big problem because we put ourselves at the center instead of a higher purpose; the one that was given to us by the Creator that’s about not glorifying ourselves, or creation, but the fact that He’s put us here to glorify something greater, Himself, because we’re not the ones that are perfect here due to the reality that we messed it up on account of our own free will. I’m far from perfect, so I’m going to stop myself before I go too much deeper and getting myself all mucked up…And in trouble.

What’s this all got to do with Hollywood or society in general? Look at the predominant message that it produces and what it centers on…the self. When have we ever stopped to smell the roses or anything other than ourselves? It’s been awhile, to be honest, at least for myself. Sometimes, all it takes is one good day to get out there and do something better than just sit in front of the TV, or just rant online about the depressing state of the media. I’ve been listening to the John Rich song, Shuttin’ Detroit Down, and it got to me, not just because of how hard the 2008 crisis hit the average American, but how modern society has created this illusion of a sugar-coated life when reality’s something different…They’re selling make believe and we don’t buy that here. Those lyrics ring so true in that we’ve got to really look at reality, see that we’ve got to see what’s going on around us, and not buy the sugar-coated version.

When we’ve got bombings after concerts, gang violence in our cities, and people just struggling to figure out what on earth’s happening, it makes you wonder (it makes me wonder) at just how far this whole thing has gotten where we buy the sugar-coated reality that we’re being told is good for us. I mean, wake up (myself included), it’s not about us; it takes people like those that helped guide people caught up in the concert bombing in Manchester to safety at a nearby hotel & notify family members to make a difference. I’m still working on this, making a difference thing that is, and it’s going to take a while, but I’m going to go out on the limb and start ignoring the sugar-coating, see the humor in life, and try to reach out & inspire.

Far from…

Sometimes, we go with the flow because it’s simple & easier that way and then, one day, something gets to us and we wonder why we’re going that way (I’m just as guilty of this as much as the next person); sometimes it’s a person that makes us rethink where we’re going and how we’re getting there. Now that Mother’s Day is come & gone here in North America, I’ve come to realize just how much we’re influenced by those that came before us; be it parents, grandparents, ancestors or others. We all have someone that’s influenced us in ways we don’t quite realize until the day comes that something makes us think about him, or her.

For me, it’s been something to realize just how much parents & others influence just what makes me who I am; we’re creatures of influence in ways that sometimes we don’t realize too well. There’s this song, New Frontier, by Canadian country singer Aaron Pritchett, about a couple going on to new frontiers and, in a way, it’s more than that for all of us; we’re constantly seeing the frontier in front of us change, and not always for the better. Personally, I think it’s about time we get far from where modern culture is going and forge our own new frontier (for lack of a better term) by caring for others, doing something that matters to someone, and holding fast to the faith that made us who we are today, making sure it’s real for us. We can do just that in our lives with what we do for work, with others, or even in our hobbies (i.e. photography, hiking, walking, etc.); just do something that might mean something to, or inspire, others.

Looking back at what I’ve done, in my life, I come to think that I’ve missed the mark quite a few times and I’m thinking that I might just be finally getting the point. Sometimes it takes a while to get the point and, although it seems a bit painful, we’ve got a bit more time done & we’ve learnt quite a bit in the process; it’s a learning process. For me, personally, it’s about learning to use the gifts & talents that the Creator has endowed me with and learning not to ignore them. So, let’s get far from where society dictates we should go (thinking chiefly about ourselves) and really set out to inspire others!

Reality…

Usually, when we see a photograph, we think that the camera doesn’t lie or if it seems too good to be true, then it’s edited & becomes a so-called fake. Personally, especially after reading many a resource on this, I think that we have to get past the belief that the camera can’t lie, because it easily can lie with the use of colored filters, black & white, and/or specialty filters (polarizers, neutral gradient filters, etc.). We want so badly to see the truth in a scene that photography no longer becomes a kind of art and al the creativity gets drained out of it in the process.

- Yellow Trumpets -
– Yellow Trumpets –

We want reality in photography, but in life we strive mostly for wants over needs (myself definitely included) so it’s almost like being double-sided. Why? I think it’s because we focus more on wishes in life and hard reality in photography without actually, or actively, realizing it ourselves. The crazy thing is that we get so caught up in gear, belongings & non-essentials that we think that they’re a reality when in fact it’s all about what we believe & what we do that really matters & has meaning; when we tend to focus on stuff along, we kind of lose touch with reality. We lose touch with reality because we focus in on more of what we need instead of what others around us need in terms of a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to without feeling judged or envious, or just a listening ear…All because we’re too focused on stuff instead of people.

Personally, I think we, as a society, need to back to the point that we can look after more than just ourselves, regardless of racial background & social standing. For some bands & groups, it’s about shaking off faith, but that’s where I think we go wrong, because we tend to have nothing to hold on to and then we get lost in the process. We all have a longing to hold onto something and we need to go after the reality in that, not in what we think is the so-called bad in it. It’s like the lyrics from the High Valley song, Don’t Stop, say: When holding on to heaven/Is all you got/Whatever you do, don’t stop. We all need something, or someone to, hold on to because, I believe, we’re not meant to be antisocial, but social people; in my opinion, this needs to become a part of our reality.

Worth…

It comes down to worth, for me at least…Is it really worth getting out there and using my camera, old by today’s technology standards, to capture a shot that might not be that significant? YES. Sure, I may not be anywhere near famous, talented or even anywhere near more than decent, but it gets me thinking and gets me to the point where I can unwind from all of life’s issues that the world seems to throw at me. I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’ve come to realize that I need to get to point that I’m able to not give a crap about how toxic the critics can be and try to do something that’s of worth. Personally, I believe we’re created to do something of meaning, something of worth, that might just inspire others to do better; the Creator’s calling us to really believe in him and he’s given us means of expression, whether that’s in the sciences, or in the arts.

- Tiny Blues -
– Tiny Blues –

It’s shots like the one above that really seem to get to me in a good way, especially after minor tweaking (after shooting it in RAW instead of the compressed JPEG format), because they show the beauty in the small things that can be so much greater than all the rest of the flashy crap out there in the world at large. The cool thing is that the center of the photograph isn’t the sharpest thing in the photograph, the spot on the right of it is; we’re drawn to the center and then left to explore the rest of the scene that the photograph presents. It’s about the exploration that just might make it worth it for the viewers and even if it doesn’t, it just might do that for me for even just one more time.

It’s not always about doing something of worth every single time, but about doing something that might just be of worth at one point or other. We stumble & fall all the time, but are we trying to at least get up and have another go of it, trying to do something of worth, not for ourselves, but for others? I’m going to make a go of it, or at least try to do just that, and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to brighten someone else’s day.