Three days on from getting the bad news about my gallery representation, I’ve really adapted to the idea and begun to feel positive about moving on to new things. This morning I woke up and watched the sunrise without a thought about the gallery. My stomach was calm, not sick feeling as it was the first day or two.
I don’t want to be represented by someone who’s not enthusiastic about my work and I have to say that I love sharing the process of creating with you. It’s relaxed and satisfying. I don’t have to make masterpieces, though I’d be happy to, all I need to do is experience the world around me and talk to you about how that feels to me.
I am confident that some strong images will come from this process, but that doesn’t have to be my only goal. I’ve always been very business oriented, despite the fact that I’m an artist. I get that from my father, who was a lifelong entrepreneur. I’ve done the same with my life. I’ve been self-employed since I was 24 years old and I wouldn’t change a thing about that.
But that orientation means that I almost immediately look for the business possibilities in anything I love. I did the same with photography. As soon as I had a body of work together, I took my portfolio and started approaching galleries. It didn’t take long to find places to exhibit, and eventually sell, my work.
Within a year, I was with the gallery that now seems ready to drop me. That was a wonderful thing for my confidence and my pocketbook, though it’s never been enough to truly support me. But the down-side is that you’re always thinking about whether an image can be sold. In effect, you’re trophy hunting; looking for those wonderful images that will speak to people sufficiently for them to part with their hard earned money.
That’s okay in that it drives you to seek excellence, but it can begin to detract from the experience of photographing and engaging with nature and life. It’s not long before you’re no longer enjoying nature and interacting with it out of pure curiosity. You’re constantly dismissing photographs as not good enough to sell. I think that process may have played a significant part in stopping me from photographing at all.
This project is very different, especially as I relax into it and worry less about selling my work and making masterpieces. I’m loving experiencing nature every day and talking with you about how that feels and the creative process I’m engaged in.
I am feeling like this is a really worthwhile way to be spending my life. Funny phrase that, “spending my life.” I started to write “spending my time.” But the truth is that at 63 years old and having watched my parents die not long ago, I am conscious that life is short. How I choose to spend what life remains to me is important. I no longer have the feeling of youth where life stretched, apparently endlessly, before me.
So, would I like to make wonderful photographs and sell them? Sure I would. I will work every day toward wonderful photographs, but I’m dropping some of the pressure on myself about that. Maybe “nice” photographs or “very nice” photographs are okay some of the time. At some point I will think about making some money from what I’m doing. After all, there are bills to be paid and income is what makes it possible to indulge in art.
For now though, I’m going to take some pressure off of myself, let the work develop as the project continues, and worry about making money later, if ever. If the gallery wants to sell my work later on, that would be great, but for now I’m not going to worry about it.