Getting back to the studio after spending a week out in the Smokies speaking at a workshop. I have to say, getting out there could not have come at a better time for me.
I went to school way upstate in New York at a very early age. Being out in the Adirondacks for this pivotal part of my life really gave me a taste of where my soul could really be happy. My head constantly feels like hundreds of televisions playing channels with poor reception – and I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to focus on one of the channels enough to see the message that’s meant to be seen.
To say that these channels have been amplified as of late would be an incredible understatement. I am grateful beyond measure for getting a chance to really help with First Shot School and trying to balance the feeling of sheer terror that comes with stepping out on a wire with little to no net. I spent a great portion of my career wanting to use what gifts I have to help further another kingdom. Never did I think that I would be worth it to want to make something of my own. As the years marched on, I slowly started to wonder if this could even be possible. More importantly – I wondered that.. if I could – what would be the reason for wanting to do this. I often feel like I sit at the end of a waterfall – feeling the rush and the power of everything coming at me – desperately trying to not drown from all of it, but to be mesmerized of the view that you are priviledged to be at.
I still don’t know that answer. And I still believe this to be a joyful and terrifying ride.
The Feedback Loop
I did get a chance to see a little bit of the why this past week – as talked to some amazing photographers wanting to make better work. Being in the outdoors really silences me. In that silence I can see the messages a little better- and am grateful for the things that I can do.
I sat at the Smokies workshop – soaked from being hip deep in the water. Smelly from the fact that I forgot all of my luggage back in Tampa. Tired from the fact that I was working during the workshop and on a couple of client jobs at night. My sleeves on my shirt were cut so I can work better in the water and my hair was a mess. At this workshop, I am notorious for running around like an excited puppy – trying to get into as many things as I possibly can.
The first question in this final Q&A was ‘RC – so where do you get this energy to do all of this’. The crowd had a bit of a laugh as everyone responded “Coffee and Red Bull” – which is partly true.
I then explained a little bit of how I feel on that wire- the panic, the stress, the anxiety, and how this largely makes me a person that is a lot more reserved and introverted than they would initially see. Being in the presence of people who want to love something and get better at it gives me joy. When I get to be in front of one person who’s like this, I want to try to be the best I can to try to help them get further. When I am around a group of them? It’s just a non stop feedback loop of energy – you just cant help but jump in it.
A very long way to say that it was because of them… But worth it to give the energy.
Revisiting “The Words”
The final question had the panel of photographers giving a photographer who had just started 3 days ago – advice on how to create work and move this further. Going last, I shared with the student a story on how an english teacher changed how I see the world and photography (You can read it in this blog post – called “The Words” ) and added a little bit of the process i’ve been going through.
After the workshop finished, a student came amongst the crowd and shook my hand. They talked about how much the story resonated with them and what they had gone through – before being overcome by emotion and tearfully leaving without saying goodbye.
I would later receive an email from the student and I would go back and forth with them a little more about our stories.
I did not let the moment pass to remind them that in that moment – it was clear to me why Im choosing to be on this wire.
I live in a perpetual fear of not having enough time left in this world. I feel like so many of us do. While it may sound fatalistic to many – I feel like for once I’ve been able to turn this fear into something I can work with.
There are two kinds of teachers – Some teach to show you how good they are. Others teach to show you how good you are. If I am indeed good at this. If I am indeed privileged to get this shot, I want to use all of my gifts to help people realize how good they are. I don’t want to be the most popular. I don’t want to be the most famous.
I just want to feel useful.
I want to teach those on the road that its a wonderful road, and that they are worth it to be on it.
Thank you guys for that gift.