For those that have been following my journey here (the blog, Twitter, Facebook etc), it’s likely you’ve read my post titled The End. It was a time when I’d reached the point where I was prepared to let go of photography and try to get on with my life without it.
The problem was, it wasn’t so easy in letting go of me!
It seemed that no matter what I told myself, photography has become an essential part of me that cannot be removed. So I decided that if it’s always going to be a part of my life, then I’m gonna work my butt off to GET GOOD!
Practice is not enough, exploration is not enough. I also need others to pull my work apart. My one encounter with a particular Magnum photographer who reviewed my work left me in tears. They were tears of frustration as I just didn’t know what to do to take it to the next level, and to make more of the images he was moved by and fewer of the ones that left him cold. That was the only time I’d had someone who has seriously made it in the industry give me advice, and it wasn’t an easy experience, but that’s what I need. You can’t sharpen a blade using cotton candy, you need a hard surface, and it’s time for my photographic skills to get some serious sharpening.
This is a part of what has led me to the decision to go back to school. On the first of August I will be filling in my application for admission to the Bachelor of Photography course at Griffith University in Brisbane. The course has the option to follow a major in Photojournalism. I will have the chance to not only enhance my photographic skills and build beyond natural ability and potential to something more substantial, but will also gain valuable insight into the rapidly changing world of photojournalism – the real-life business side of things. These are two key things that I’ve been lacking and that have hindered me greatly in my attempts to get anywhere as a professional.
I have played things safe for too long. I will be putting myself back below the poverty line (and dragging my wife down there too – but she has her own academic motivations that make it worthwhile for both of us), and there will be many, MANY sacrifices to make, but this is what I have to do, and it’s the right thing to do.
And I know that if I sow all of myself into this career, I will reap a bumper crop (albeit possibly a long way down the track, or maybe sooner than I could anticipate). I’ve counted the cost, and it’s a lot better than the cost of not following my heart and what I know deep down really drives me.
So this is where it starts. A lot of pain. A lot of sacrifice. But I’m excited about what lies ahead beyond that.
Just you wait. One day they’ll be looking at this blog saying “Wow! Adam Robert Young almost walked away from photography at one stage! It would have been a real shame – his images have had such a resounding impact. I bet he had no idea what he would become when he wrote that post, or the one when he started afresh on his journey”. Maybe not, but if I don’t believe it’s possible for me to change the world in some way through photography, I might as well save myself the effort and quit right now. It’s gotta be more than just taking some nice shots. Taking this course is the start of my adventure of discovering how to do something substantial that will truly have an impact. I’m done with taking travel snaps and shots of people in the street. I’m made for more than that, I know it deep in my soul.
The famous proverb about a journey of ten thousand miles starting with a single step bounces around my head as I count down the days to August 1 when I apply for the course. That day will mark the start of the journey, and if my life has taught me anything it’s that you can never anticipate the serendipitous encounters along the way that will open up doors to things you’d never imagined. But if you don’t take that first step, you’ll never know what could have been.
I will not live with that regret.