A good (if far away) friend of mine posted a link to 500px today, showing that one of his awesome pics hit the first page. Inspired, I think to myself: "Wow, great shot! I should create a 500px account and post some of my stuff!".
Fast forward, account set up, profile updated, time to upload some pictures. Well, a quick skim of my portfolio collection reveals nothing too spectacular... so I fire up lightroom to have a browse. 27,231 images in my local library (not including archives and backups). Not a single image that I actually like... nothing that even remotely reminds myself of, well, myself.
Off to my archives... digging through a few hard drives and backups, 2 old Flickr accounts, a few old websites and folders archived away in server land.
Thousands upon thousands of images, 10's of thousands of dollars invested in photography equipment, and 1 picture takes me somewhere. Only 1 photo actually makes me proud of where I've been, and what I've done... taken with a rebel xt and a kit lens, no less.
Sure I have lots of other 'good' images. I've done wedding photography for years, commercial photography, corporate head shots, pictures of friends, events, family, random people and places, photos that people have loved, photos that people have said are amazing, but it's all shit. Well, except for that 1 shot. The only picture I have that actually means anything to me as a photographer. Sure I might be talented (by some loose definition of 'talent), but so far it seems that I've only created one thing with that talent that has made it worthwhile. I could post all kinds of crap on here in hopes of a couple sales, or maybe a commission... but isn't that just the path that got me to this point in the first place?
It leads to a greater question - have I actually accomplished anything that I've wanted to accomplish? Seriously now, what have I been doing for the last 10 years? I've had dreams (literally) of climbing in the Huayhuash or Cordillera Blanca in Peru for almost that entire decade now, yet, for all the times I've been on a commercial airliner eating pretzels, I've only ever traveled for work. Of course, it hasn't been the easiest few years. Since quitting my full time career in 2008 to pursue 'the dream', I've worked harder and made less than ever before in my entire life. Even now, my calendar looks like a solid black block of need-to-get-dones that everyone else wants me to do.
I think it's been over 2 years since I last cared about impressing anyone with my photos. I can't even impress myself. I still pick up my camera pretty often, unfortunately, it hasn't been for anything other than fulfilling a contractual obligation for a very long time. It all adds up to the bigger picture... or should I say, bigger problem.
So, with this post, I'm uploading that one picture, because it brings me somewhere. Back to 6 hours of skinning up a glacier in the worst weather conditions I've ever braved, and that Serac avalanche that missed us by 100'.
Of course, it's also a reminder of how much I haven't accomplished. That in all I've aspired to do and be, all I have to show for it is one measly photo of some icefields - a startling jolt of reality of how distant the dream of what I thought I could be really is.
So for now it's one picture, but if it's all about putting one foot in front of the other, I guess one photo isn't so bad. Maybe sometime before another decade comes and goes, I can make it two.