Looking Out, Looking In


For me, watching waves ebb and flow is probably the most meditative experience. My mind immediately calms. I breathe more deeply. I start thinking about what I’m grateful for. I smile. Looking at these photos I think about how life is just as much about looking out as it is looking in. To see and journey toward a horizon while paying attention to what’s close and stirring inside.

3 of 4: “Be water, my friend.”

I’m getting ready to hang some of my work at a local coffee shop for the month of February. Everything was going swimmingly. I had business cards designed, I’m working on my Artist’s Bio, and picked out two sets of photos I think would work well in the space.

The first set of photos are a group of three that I had printed last month. I bought the frames online and they were delivered while I was away. When I got back I worked on framing them, and they look great.

The second set of photos is a set of four. I dragged my feet a bit getting them printed, and dragged a little more deciding how I wanted to go about framing them. Initially, I thought of having them framed in town, but after a consultation they estimated an amount that was out of my budget. So, I went the online delivery route and the four came in two separate shipments.

The first two came a few days ago. I immediately opened them to get the process started. For what they cost, they are what I expected: simple and black. I cleaned the dust off and slipped the photos in there. They looked great. The second shipment arrived today and I was excited to have homes for the final two images. And more, I was excited to have them ready for the show. But as I took the first one out, I heard a little noise, like it was the sound of a wind chimes. As I tilted it to one side, I realized what the sound was, and winced. It was the sound of broken glass. I thought “Don’t worry. We’ll ask to send a replacement,” thinking I’d get one by end of next week. Just my luck, the company who makes them let us know that they were out of stock and a replacement wouldn’t arrive for another month. Le *sigh*.

My husband, sensing my stress, called from work and proposed a couple of options:

  • Eat the cost of the frame and pay for replacement glass.
  • Return the frame for a refund and show only three pieces.

A couple of other options I thought of later are:

  • Buy a whole new set of four frames in town to ensure glass isn’t broken (not gonna happen).
  • Wait for the replacement frame and ask to add it to the show mid-month.

I’m so close. I started off pretty irritated, but it is what it is. I’m channeling Bruce Lee and how he said “Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend“. Sometimes plans hit snags and you just have to deal. It’s not worth it to fight what I don’t have control over (the production of the same frame in the time that I need it). Instead, I need to just work through it, find a fix, be resourceful, and have faith. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not like this isn’t fixable. This won’t define my work. Nor does it define me as a person. I’ll go ahead and be water.

Developing identity

As I work toward creating a name for myself in artistic photography, I’ve been thinking about photographers that have inspired me, “wowed” me to be better, or whose work resonated with my own. One of them is Gordon Lewis, who takes beauties like this photo. Another is Cubie King, who captures magical moments like this.

As I prepare and package photos to sell at an upcoming Martial Arts & Crafts Bazaar, I stumbled upon this image that I took on the side of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art building (if I remember correctly).

Approaching. San Francisco 2012.

When I rediscovered this photo I almost asked myself “Is this mine?” because it has so many elements that remind me of photographers I admire. As much as I want to stand out, I found that comparing my photography to others in this way is uplifting and reassuring somehow.

In the creative world, generally speaking, I think we all want to be unique. It can be easy to compare yourself to others and see it as a threat to your creativity. The “They’re better than I am” syndrome can leave one paralyzed as they’re finding their way through the art world. And I’m bit by this bug every once in a while. But through time and exposure to other artists – talking with them, meeting them, learning about their process – I’ve come to take advantage of these moments and use them for inspiration and learning, as opposed to ranking myself to them.

So, as I continue on this journey of self discovery and identity through art, I want to keep in mind that being like others is okay. We’ll never be exactly the same, anyway. All I can do is be inspired and see myself as an artist with my own unique voice. My continuing goal will be to have more moments like this when I ask myself “Is this mine?”.




To Be Outside


To Be Outside
Printer paper, Nook, iPhone

Statement about this piece: This image, split into four parts, imitate a window frame looking out at an every day scene:  shower curtain lifted by the wind, yet held in place by laundry pins. The windows above it look out onto the ocean, an endless expanse of beautiful uncertainty. The intent of this piece is to evoke a feeling of isolation. Even with big dreams, freedom, support, and gratitude, we still can somehow find the negative energy to trap ourselves in our own minds and keep ourselves from moving outside of our comfort zones.