About fears and lemonade

The last couple of weeks were a bit bumpy, rather harsh after some months of constant delirium. I called it pre-midlife crisis, thanks to the fact that it was not about a real problem, more like worrying about something that might happen; namely not getting the chance to join the MA of my dreams (aka. Major Mid-Life Crisis).

I think I’m over now: I have plan B, even plan C, ready in case of failure. Now I’m sitting in a café sipping home-made lemonade, working myself through the week 3 assignment of the latest MOMA-craze.

Thanks to my wonderful, wonderful cousin my motivation letter has just been finalized, and now all I need is the recommendation letters, then I’m all set to hand in my application. (Yes, I haven’t even sent it yet, nevertheless I’m scared to death what the hell I’m going to do if they don’t take me.)

In a few months everything will be up-side-down, hopefully. I should be on a new, much wider path to achieve something I have been thinking about for years. It would be much appreciated if my bad dreams reeking of existential fears were also gone soon. Let’s hope this (slightly too sweet) lemonade will be the last thing reminding me of them. As of now, I consider it an antidote.

Happy New Year

In Hungary you are not supposed to wash or clean on the first day of the year – unless you want to do that all day, every day.

In the spirit of this superstition I have made the best possible day out of mine: I woke up the way I like it the most. I had a scrumptious breakfast in the morning sunshine, enjoying the misty view. I went to the beach to take some pictures, had a lunch outside, went jogging, did my exercise. I read something of value and I wrote this post. I took my time whatever I did. No fuss, no frustration. Now I’m heading to see my evening companion to spend the best kind of Friday night together and even though I did not get to cook the sort-of-compulsory lentil dish of the first day of the year I know I have started it well.

Here is to the days one spends as they should spend all the coming days.

Happy New Year!

(Un)muted soul

This week I’m on an “accidental” holiday. No traveling, simply having real time for stuff I usually have to squeeze into my evenings and/or weekends.

Do not get me wrong, I am grateful for the job I have, it pays the bills. However, it also kills the flow and mutes my soul.

One year ago I was on the brink of total bankruptcy, yet working on projects and taking photographs. Now I am back on track and paying into my pension again but lost in routine.

I assume what I would badly need for a good balance is discipline. That I lack big time though so now all I can see that sitting in a café at 10 AM, waiting for a photo shoot with the latest papers and sipping good coffee is something I truly miss. Also, I’m back in the flow. No more muted soul – not this week.

On my first one

Last week it finally happened to me, the first time: my photographs hanging on a wall, vulnerably exposing themselves to curious eyes. It was awfully frightening and wonderfully inspiring at the very same time. Thank goodness it was a group show so the attention was nicely, cozily shared and many, many of my friends showed up turning the whole evening from manageable into something fascinating. Now I cannot wait to have the next one. Anyone willing to throw an exposition for me?

Anyways, what I am planing to blog about is nervousness. Not the kind pushing you ahead but the crippling one, keeping you back from achieving whatever. We may call it inhibition (should definitely be used in plural), an inner urge to prove ourselves (to whomever we think we are doing things for) or perfectionism; we can blame it on our parents, our first teacher(s) – but if we are being completely honest it’s just an excuse, nothing more.

It’s not that I cannot handle criticism. [I know exactly which one of you is shaking his head right now in strong disagreement.] Nevertheless putting myself (pictures taken by me) out there is not an easy task. Do you ever have dreams where you are all of a sudden (almost) naked in public? That’s quite much how it feels like. Those photographs are like my children. They might not be perfect but they are mine. Fragments of my being. Confessions, in a sense. Stuff you don’t really want to show just to anyone.

Virtual galleries are somehow different. There is that “distance” there, between you (your pictures) and the viewer. It’s a lot like online dating: it’s so much easier to approach someone on the internet…

My point is: last week I was far out of my comfort zone like I had not been for a long, long time. (Avoiding “risky” situations is definitely one of my fortes.) And you know what? It felt good.

Naamloos

*

Dedicated to my phenomenal friends making sure life not simply passes by but happens to me.

How (not) to write your artistic statement

At the beginning of the year I decided it was about time to have my first exhibition. Of course this impulse needed to be posted on Facebook immediately since collecting likes keeping your followers entertained is pretty much part of daily life. A friend responded shortly with some useful information – and now both of us, among other artists, are exhibiting in Amsterdam.

The whole thing started rather small. Then all of a sudden the venue, the lovely Jam Workspace, decided to make it bigger and throw an opening. How awesome is that! Nevertheless, this is when things started to go weird. I freaked out and reduced the number of photos I wanted to show. I was happy about the pictures, however the frames that I had were quite a mixture. Some had usual glass, some had museum glass. And my inner perfectionist immediately decided not to mix them.

And while this thing above makes quite a lot of sense, the whole fuss I’m making over my artistic statement is more than annoying. Not that I’m not used to driving myself crazy, don’t get me wrong. I’m quite good at making my everyday life quite complicated, just to meet my very own standards and expectations. I’ve learnt to live with that. But now we are like three days away from the opening and I’m still not ready. And also, it’s not even finalized yet, but I’m already having trouble what paper I should print it on…

So. I had had one. Statement I mean. Then sent it for a grammar check and got back something completely different in a couple of days time. I was told the original one was not to be taken seriously. I must show professionalism no matter what.

I do see the point, and appreciate the input – but… Despite being a 100% reliable grown-up I do not believe in taking life seriously. It’s just a waste of time and nerves. (Not life but thinking too much of it.) I believe Calvin and Hobbes should be compulsory literature. Much less problems we would have if we stopped thinking everything has to be handled so “professional”. (That’s another thing I should write a post on, so called “professionalism”.)

On the other hand my friend spent time on it and I respect his opinion. I don’t want to simply trash his version and go back to the original.

And now here I am, feeling like a puppy chasing its tail and getting nowhere. The text is here on my screen, waiting for me to finish things up and to pick the right paper. (As if it really mattered what kind of paper I print it on.)

I’m making too much of it, aren’t I?

*

Dedicated to Lisa and Kirsty whom I owe big time for making this exposition happen.

On things that are not meant to happen

A couple of weeks ago I applied for The Job. It was a bit of a long shot but I was desperate enough to give it a try – and the day after I was invited for an interview. I had never ever prepared this much for a meeting and even though I did some obvious mistakes I nailed it. Or so I thought.

The very same day I sent a thank you note that was replied very soon: I was loved! Of course there was a “but”, a pretty big one, blinking in red and bold. Nevertheless I got another chance to prove myself. I worked three days and nights on the home work that I was given to show them what a wonderful catch I am. I wrote my very first video script, analyzed Banksy’s Sunflower from Petrol Station, wrote a piece on Hrabal‘s Uncle Pepin and so on, and so on. I haven’t worked this hard for years. I loved the challenge and I knew I am good enough and have what it takes.

Then came the rejection, just a few days later. A truly brief one. This is how I pulled off the ice bucket challenge.

In general, despite my bitter, ironic and sarcastic personality, I am a very positive woman always finding the sunny side of whatever. This time I rediscovered the writer in me once again, the one that I kind of lost years ago. (Mostly due to my laziness and the lack of work that requires much brains.) Therefore I am grateful even though I am unquestionably disappointed and devastated.

I also believe that things happen for a reason plus I’m perverted enough to draw on some self-esteem from this all, in spite of the defeat.

What’s the lesson? Fortune favours the brave. One way or another.

Pros (vs. cons)

Today has been an excellent example of why quitting-your-well-paid-full-time-job-and-living-in-financial-instability-in-order-to-purchase-your-dreams is worth it: I was given the possibility to assist the jury of Pride Photo Award, and I could arrange my schedule a way that I could accept it without any trouble.

It was an experience I will never forget.

I’m pretty emotional now (yes, I’m like that) so I will let is sink a bit before I share anything further with you. ^_^

One of those nights

I’m having one of those nights when I’m reluctant to go sleep as my thirst for knowledge is much greater than my not-negligible tiredness. Thanks to a quickly approaching portfolio review and the imminent deadline of VIPA I’m finally awake once again, also metaphorically, and all of a sudden ready to soak in all the possible information related to photography without any effort.

Tonight my “bed companion” is Laura Noble’s The Art of Collecting Photography. I was lucky to meet the author last year while she was teaching a workshop at FOAM, then somewhat later I had another chance to see her and her lovely colleagues at UNSEEN 2013. It wasn’t easy to get the book but somehow I got my hands on a reasonably priced one—and tonight after long months of stalling far too many things in life this book seemed to be a good restart.

Why anyone in incurable love with photography should have this book in their library? It is full of iconic pictures neatly organized and with descriptions you cannot find just anywhere, and that’ only the tip of the ice berg. I promise to share with you some bits and pieces in the coming days (weeks), here comes the first one:

“The collector must be mindful of the fact that it is easy to be seduced by so much choice, and the photographer must be sufficiently disciplined in order to produce an image that delivers a strong sense of authorship.”

Let’s keep this in mind for future reference.

 

The Big Darkroom Project – stage 4

Well, in the end I gave up on the idea of my very own darkroom—at least for the time being: I do not spend enough time at my mum’s place in Hungary, where the darkroom was about to be built, and it’s also not a cheap hobby, let’s be honest. Even though I have like 95% of the gear there is still quite some money to invest: I’m missing lenses for the enlarger(s), some filters would be handy, the sink is still to be installed, not to mention chemicals to purchase.

I’ve found the best rental darkroom in Budapest though with superb supervision assistance if needed where I plan to spend quite some time whenever I’m home in Hungary: lab4art. It’s a nice pro lab in the center with lovely people to guide you around the place and/or through the process. Darkrooms you can rent on an hourly/daily basis with or without assistance for a reasonable price—or you can attend their workshop(s) to learn how the whole thing works.

I will share some of my first experiments with you in the coming days as I developed some pictures taken by my father in the 1970’s. So much fun—and so much to learn. Just another part of photography I instantly fell in love with.

No Regrets #2

Yesterday it was the first anniversary of taking The Official Step to become my own boss.

A couple of days earlier I had founded The Momentologist. Originally I wanted to play it safe, as a weekend entrepreneur, to see how it goes and whether there is an option to leave my safe full-time job behind sometime in the future. The more I was thinking the more obvious it became (to me at least): I have to take the risk and do it to the full so I quit.

Family and friends were, mostly, supportive. The openly sceptical ones I avoided to make sure I don’t give in. And here I am now, having the time of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy. I am an anti-consumerist now, to say the least—not only on principle. Living on a tight budget can be very frustrating, especially when you are supposed to have that out-going, not-much-to-care-about part of your life when you don’t have a family yet. And there are further cons, no arguments there. Still, no regrets.

It is amazing how quick you become an expert on finding the cheapest offers or best alternatives when you need to. You also learn to appreciate the tiniest things (even) more than before and it is wonderful to see that friends you really can count on.

You do what you love. (Most of the time.)

You are the boss so on a beautiful day you can simply move your office to the park nearby, or just decide to do the work overnight to make time for whatever you feel like during the day.

Cafés become offices. All of them.

Going to museums and/or exhibitions, surfing the internet, reading articles on what you are interested in and blogging is part of your job. (Needs to be work related, of course. Sorry…)

People keep on saying how brave you are. (If only they knew the truth.)

I could go on both with pros and cons but now it is time to get to the point: if I ever published a photobook filled with my work, my acknowledgements would mention two persons. Since I’m not sure that it will ever happen this is just the perfect occasion to express my gratitude to a friend of mine, code-named The Walrus, who had handed in his resignation a couple of months earlier than me. Without his ineffable inspiration and endless support The Momentologist would not (yet) exist. A big, big *hug* to him for everything he has ever done for me. Another person I wouldn’t have done it without: my wonderful coach who made me realize I am capable.

Without them I would be so much behind.