My birthday is one month from today. Like most years, around this time, I think about all that’s happened during the passed year. I think about my goals; I think about my progress, my failures, any procrastination or setbacks. I’ve been losing sleep the last couple of days. So much is on my mind.
I’ll be 36 years old. At this point, people ask me: “How many kids do you have?” Umm… “Are you married?” Well… Then, they give me an odd stare, which is quite uncomfortable. Oh yes, my mom may call, asking if I’m dating someone yet while reminding me how close I am to 40.
Funny thing is, as I plan for the future, I’m looking more and more at my past. I ask myself, “what happened?” at certain junctures in my life. Of course, I can’t change what’s been done, but the threat of making the same mistakes is present.
As I finished my demo reel, everything looked okay, but I had this nagging feeling that “something” was missing. Something is not right. My photography is good; my ideas are alright. But something is still not right! It’s stuck, somehow. I’m stuck, somehow. And why?!
3am. I found myself working on the photograph above at three o’clock in the morning. My brain could not rest! I need sleep, it’s not cooperating. I went through my usual edits: lens correction; levels adjustment; color correction. Added my logo in the corner and…and…and it was boring. It was plain. It felt like just another photograph off the assembly line of photographs in my portfolio and I hated my life. I hated this job!
Okay. I love photography. Check. I like this photograph. Check. So, what was the problem?! As I mulled over my frustration, a Bible verse came to mind. I looked up verses, looked up versions, and found Matthew 6:26. I really didn’t want to spend a bunch of time trying to arrange type “somewhere” over the photo without messing it up.
But I had to.
Eventually, the light bulb came on and I stopped “thinking” and started feeling…my heart attached to what I was doing. Somewhere along the way, my mind took over too much. I analyzed my photos, edited them through PhotoShop numbers, instead of allowing my heart to take over, drawing out significant messages from them. There has to be a heart/mind balance. Too much power to either one can throw you off.
Anyway, when I looked at this finished version, my mind began to rest again. I ended up writing a message to myself: “Don’t Worry.” Don’t worry about how my life will turn out. Don’t worry about what people will think if I start adding verses to a lot of my pieces. Don’t worry about anything. Plan. Prepare. Do. Period.
That’s when it hit me. This photograph can be more than just another pretty picture. It can help others who are feeling anxiety or need a similar reminder. It can help a lot of people. The feeling I get from this thought is indescribable.
I guess…after six years of photographing pretty florals, pretty landscapes, pretty achitecture, on and on…I can’t take it anymore. It needs to be more than just a pretty picture of something. There are so many people hurting, going through hard times, that need encouragement or inspiration or a glimmer of hope all around the world…perhaps…I could try to offer that through my work in this way.
I refused to before, because adding scriptures to my work puts them in a little “religious” box in a way, which I despise. But…I think it’s part of what I’m supposed to do. Hmm. I can try out a few and see how it goes, the response I get. BUT the whole pretty picture thing has to go. I don’t think I can take anymore. So, some type of significant message has to be included, some deeper purpose, something more.
Otherwise…it feels really shallow right now.
Eric Christopher Jackson