When I was about 10 years old I had to visit my mother at the hospital. I didn't know why but my dad warned me that whatever I do, to CLOSE MY EYES upon entering the room. The reason, I was told, was in order not to be scared.
Back then, that was the surest way to make me do something: To tell me not to. But for some reason this time I heeded my father's voice and didn't open my eyes, I gave a teddy bear to my mother that I brought with my allowance and headed back home.
My mother had cancer and she just had a tumor extracted from her brain. As a kid, all I knew was my mother had hair, now she didn't. And she had a mighty big scar on her head. They took out half of her lungs and some brain out. Thanks a lot, cigarettes!
She lived a pretty normal life afterwards, but here's what no one ever told me: She had 6 months to live max and was condemned to a wheelchair.
She didn't die after 6 months, and wheelchairs were only used on long trips. When she went to the hospital, everyone wanted to see the “Miracle lady”. She fought. She won.
Her secret? First of all she prayed like there was no tomorrow (and there wasn't) and second of all she wanted to see me married. That's all she wanted out of life. Whether or not this was an act of God is for another discussion, all I know was she had a reason to live. And she did.
Everyone is living, not everyone has a reason to do so. My mom had a reason to live and she fought. But the sad thing is, not everyone has a purpose in life.
Ever seen zombies? They are lifeless and simply go trough the motions. They have no reason to be besides eating BBRRRAAAINNNsss. There's also zombie photographers, they have no reason to shoot besides shooting.
They do what other people do because that's what everybody else does. They follow the crowd, they shoot like everyone else. Plato said “The unexamined life is not worth living” and it's a quote that is pretty deep. It's the reason that you do something, the “Why” of things that separate living people from zombies.
Your purpose in photography……What are you trying to do with your images?
If you don't have a reason for your photography, you won't fight for it, because deep down you probably don't think it's worth a damn. If my mom thought like that, I would have been raised by a single parent.
You only have one try
I always loved the “Land before time” cartoon series, it's about dinosaurs and back then I was a budding archaeologist (my favorite plushie was a Stegosaurus, aptly named “Stego”) . But now when I see “Little foot”, my heart tugs. The last time I saw him was as a plushie…..in a casket. In that casket was my cousin.
15 years old. A frikking KID. Everyone knows they are going to die someday, but there's something about young lives cut short that just breaks your heart. And I think it's the fact that they didn't get their chance to live. That's why the toys made me break down, they were a reminder that my cousin was still a child. My sister in law is about to get married, she tried many dresses before settling for one. We don't get that in life, we only get one shot at it.
So we better make it count, no? We better be the best photographer we can ever be because there is no try again. And while I would like to tell you all of the family had a deep premonition the day my cousin passed away, it was sudden. One day he dropped in a coma, and the next day he was gone.
Be the best photographer You can be
I'm not telling you these stories to make you sad or anything. It's a simple reminder that life hits hard sometimes. And as photographers we have one chance at it, only one chance. We have the potential to be the best photographers we can be, express ourselves the way we really feel, produce the most excellent images that we can possibly can……but we can also waste that potential by being zombie photographers and doing a half-ass job.
So let me ask you……what are you doing with your photography? Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.
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