27.03.19 - on work, truly in progress

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On Saturday it will be two months since I arrived in Australia, and a month and half officially working on the project that brought me here. It’s been a hectic and full first few weeks, combining work and meeting days with sightseeing, and some days spent just figuring out how to get through the basics in this new place.

For the last few years I’ve relied on the phrase “finding my footing” when talking about making new work, and it’s more accurate than ever here. I’ve started shooting at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, PlantBank in Mt. Annan, and will head out to the Hawkesbury WSU campus tomorrow to see their climate research facilities. I’m loving this aspect of my research, and right now I’m casting a wide net and shooting from a more observational perspective. As time goes on, I’ll get into more detail and maybe start focusing in on certain areas that have caught my attention for one reason or another.

I felt in a really good place in photographing towards the end of graduate school, and now that I’m shooting more consistently again, I find myself even more critical of what I’m making and how I’m doing. I’m not sure if it’s where I’m at in my career, the freshness of the project, or the weird internal pressure of being a Fulbright scholar, but most of what I’ve made so far has left me rather disappointed in myself. Last week was the worst week yet since arriving, and I started to irrationally feel like maybe I’d never figure this out and be able to make anything worthwhile during this precious time I have.

The only thoughts running through my head:

Two months here, and nothing much to show for it.

Not even nine months left.

The clock is ticking.

This mentality was then compounded by the guilt of knowing I have this amazing opportunity, which I shouldn’t be wasting it feeling sorry for myself. It was a rough week, if I’m being totally honest. I feel incredibly grateful that I have a support system in my life, and new guidance here in Australia, that helped pull me from the funk and to charge forward. Chatting through my ideas with Tyler, getting back into a productive writing routine, and meeting with my amazing advisor at WSU, and starting to visit the art + design library to sit with my favourite photographers all helped to snap me back to my typical (ie: happier) reality.

So I don’t love what I’ve made so far. But it’s not time wasted. It’s the first step of many, many more, that may (and likely will) last far past the deadline of my scholarship. Failing for the first few weeks has given me clarity and I’m moving forward shooting with a better sense of what I want this narrative to be and for these images to look like. I can’t rely on how I was shooting a year ago, and though trying new things is a bit scary, it’s also incredibly exciting and a new challenge to tackle.

The purpose this post really serves is this – to explain why the WIP section of this website has been (and honestly, continues to be) lacklustre and a bit empty. But I have, and will continue, to post both the successes and the images that fall flat. I think it’s necessary to keep this space honest and true to my experience. Not everything is perfect, even in the most perfect of scenarios. But it will get better (and let’s cross our fingers the work does, too).