Photographers7 mins 459 7 mins 459
I had come to photography because I loved the way the world lit up at different times. The golden glow of a sunset sky, shimmering waves of the ocean, brown eyes catching the sun and glowing amber, a candle lit room, the iridescence of a bubble. The brightest star in the night, the dark sky just before a storm, neon lit cities, dust swirling in a shaft of sunlight, dew drops shining on the grass early morning, Christmas lights, heavenly auroras, fireworks. This world. And I wanted to makes these miniscule moments last a lifetime.
But I cannot. I’ve spent years doing photography but my photographs are all ordinary snaps. What I see is so beautiful, hues of light bleeding into one another, warm and cool shades mingling, but the camera never captures it all. I couldn’t even win at the Summer Fest photography contest this year.
“Mum has already spent too much on this. I don’t want to trouble her anymore when I am not even winning at this. I’m leaving now, will get more time for studying as well. It’s stupid, I don’t know why I took it in the first place.” I tell Ethan.
“You’re going to give up just because you didn’t win at one freaking summer fest? That’s not how it is done, Jodi. You just do not give up like that.”
“I’ve been trying from before this group, Ethan. My photographs aren’t anything special. They just don’t capture the beauty I see, it is useless.” I say, zipping up my jacket. “I don’t think I’m made for it, Ethan, I really don’t.”
Ethan sighed, “Stay this week. Eric Weaver is coming for some sort of talking session, day after tomorrow. Don’t tell me you don’t want to meet him.”
Eric Weaver- the newly made celebrity photographer from our town of Laredo.
“Plans reconsidered. I think I’ll stay.”
“Temporarily.” I say, “See you tomorrow.”
“Don’t ‘same’ your courtesies, lad.”
“Stop it, Jodi.” He laughs.
We say goodbye to all the other members and thank Aza for asking out and arranging a meeting with Eric Weaver. I leave the park where our photography club meets, the winds growing colder.
I don’t think I’ll be a good enough photographer ever. I think I shouldn’t come back here ever.
But I’ll be back tomorrow, if only to be part of the Eric Weaver session.
It’s Thursday evening.
Eric Weaver is here to talk to our photography club about his experiences. He had made news when his masterpiece photograph collection had been sold for two million dollars.
We settle in a circle. The bonfire crackles and whips, bright sparks flying up, throwing our faces in a dancing, golden aura. I want to click a snap but I know it won’t turn out good. Lines of sweat roll down my neck.
“Are you guys comfortable?” Eric asks. We all nod.
“I don’t want to tell you that I was just an ordinary nobody until last month, when I got my big break and now I’m a success with a perfect life forever because that would totally be a lie.” Eric says, stroking a hand through his hair.
“If I bore you guys out, please tell me, we’ll change topics.
I have anxiety issues. Not severe. I think my anxiety has helped me with photography. Everything seemed to be going away so quickly, fleeting memories whose wonders were now at the mercy of my gray matter.
Photographs helped me keep some of it, a lot of it really. I look at photographs of my thirteenth birthday and I remember the chocolate cake I ate that day. I remember how my parents had smiled and sang for me and for a second my anxiety was gone and my chest felt lighter.”
He wiped his hands on his jeans, “You know what, time doesn’t make anything fade. It just gives you memories to overshadow the earlier ones with. And the photos brought it all back.”
“Will you tell us about your early life, sir?” asks Veronica, taking notes.
“Okay. You see, Laredo is not exactly the biggest metropolis and my dad was no Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates to let me take risks with a career as insecure, unstable as photography. Let me be truthful- I wasn’t quite sure of it as well, I just wanted to not lose it all, I loved photography, I had never thought about the sustainability of it. There’s no steady, guaranteed income, you see. Plus, you cannot get cameras with the kind of allowance I used to get, and seeing them-my parents- getting stressed over financial issues, I didn’t have the nerve to ask for more.
“I used to think I was a disappointment. They were trying so hard to get their child an education and then a stable job, and there was I, failing in math every other year. I used to cry in my room, into the pillows, thinking I wasn’t good enough, that I’d never be good enough.”
“Do you, do you still feel like that?” I ask, leaning towards the fire.
“Less often but yes, I still cry when criticism hits me hard.” A strong wind blows, the flames dance violently. The air murmurs and tinkles with cicada notes
Besides me, Hannah yawns, and Eric stops speaking.
“Am I, am I boring you? I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have gone into boring personal narrative.”
“Oh no, sir. It’s not like that. I got three hours of highly interrupted sleep last night due to my neighbor’s newly spawn love for late night band practice. That’s all. You should go on.” Hannah explains as Eric smiles and nods.
“What I am saying is that these insecurities, fears and miseries never leave you. You only learn to live with them and to believe in yourself in spite of them.”
“I have a question.” Ethan raises his hand, “A friend of mine is so dedicated towards photography that she can make you doubt the efforts you put towards your dreams and can inspire you, too.” He pauses and looks at me, “Lately, she’s feeling like her photographs aren’t as beautiful as what she sees. Anything you can suggest to bring back her confidence? Because I feel she could do wonders if she doesn’t give up.”
“You say she thinks hers photos aren’t as beautiful. I say no photograph will be better than what you can see with your eyes. Not all beauty can be captured. What you have to do is strive to minimize the difference.” He looks around, “By the looks of it, I think that friend is here, is she?”
Ethan points to me. Eric gives me a high-five.
“I think you’re quite familiar with all that I have done in my professional life. I chose photography. My father is still not quite convinced but I think it is okay. Even if this photo collection would have not sold at this price, I’d still choose photography, I think.
Because I want to capture all the beauty that goes unseen and I want to show this world that maybe we’re not so bad after all, maybe most of the fault is in the way we see and perceive everything. I want to make us aware of our own beauty. I do not want to watch helplessly as the moments I love slip away from me. I want to keep them. Maybe it’s selfish, but I want to keep them all so badly. I want to save myself.” He pauses, “You are officially the best audience I’ve ever had, really.” He grins and we laugh.
He says, “If you care for it enough, you will follow your dreams. And the fact that you guys are here, taking time out of your day, tells me enough that you are already on the way. You know, a lot of times, things get ugly and stupid and you get desperate and hopeless, with no promise of any fortune in the future, but you keep going anyway. It is likely you won’t succeed at first; it is very, very likely. But I succeeded, maybe not the day or the week or the month or the year I started, but I did succeed, right?” He coughs and takes a sip of warm coffee out of the thermos.
I believe if I can do it, so can you. Just allow yourself to grow and take time and never give up. If I can do it, then so can you.” He points towards every single one of us.
“So can I.” I whisper to myself, a fire in me burning brighter than the fire outside. Maybe not today, but someday for sure, if I don’t give up, if I believe in myself. It will not be an easy road, but as the saying goes, rough roads lead to beautiful destinations, and by the time I reach mine, I will have grown enough to click a photograph, and that will be the most beautiful photograph ever.
So can I.