What Summer Brings

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Summer breezes are blasts of furnace heat. The hot is thick and tangible. You feel it crisping your skin. It blankets you in persperation until you’re grumpy and out of sorts. Summer can be a restless season. The stifling heat can be debilitating. For those of us accustomed to air conditioning, it renders us like herds migrating to the next AC’d shelter. The only time the heat can be tolerable is when you’re floating in a pool. When you’re looking up at the tree tops and the crisp blue sky that look freshly laundered while chlorinated water caresses your skin. It’s pretty much bliss. Other than that, summer has a way of amplifying the tiny things that tug on your nerves.

This summer has been one of ups and downs. First there was the design conference I had the pleasure to attend in San Francisco (although it was anything but hot in San Fran). Then there was the antsy limbo between one project and the next. The desire to plan a getaway but being tied to schedules and obligations rendered thoughts of a resort visit nearly obsolete. In the middle of all this was a family tiff between some members.

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Many times I sat before my computer screen and stared at it. I searched web sites scavenging for inspiration only to come away feeling disappointed that my work is not as good. I also stared at my journal’s empty page, perplexed because hundreds of thoughts have flitted through my mind, but when it came time to pen them, they scurry into the dark recesses. Or perhaps the self critic chased them away.

Do you ever long for that elusive something? That something you can’t quite put your finger on it, but it’s something you want to attain?

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When I think about what I want to do with the rest of my life, I find that I don’t have a ready answer. Is it because my perception to the answer has to first of all sufficiently deal with the questions of financial security and current responsibilities? I try to imagine, to let myself go, to remove the hindrances and just imagine, as I regularly and so easily did when I was a child. It doesn’t come easily anymore.

One day while sitting at my dining table over my morning coffee I remembered a question one life coach posed on her web site. If you could do anything, knowing that you would not fail, what would it be?

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What would your answer be?

I just want to make nice things and get enough sleep.

I saw this quote on Pinterest the other day. It nearly sums up my motto. I want to make nice things. I want to do/create something of which I can be proud of and that other people would appreciate. I want my craft to make a difference, and I want to enjoy the process of creating it. At the close of the day I want to be satisfied with my work.

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What work is that though?

For a while I thought graphic designing was that work. I certainly enjoy the process and the challenges of designing. My hobby is cooking and feeding friends and family my meals. I have no desire to cook professionally. I do love to write. I love when my thoughts can flow from one point to the next on paper or screen, and the words I need to describe these thoughts are readily there. When I’m stumbling to search for the right words, I often don’t press through to finish what I started with my writing. Then there’s photography. How I love capturing a fantastic photo, that moment in time when the light is just right, the angles and composition are just so…when the shutter is snapped and you see the image that reflects the mood you wanted to capture…it is exhilarating.

Instead of turning my thoughts to photography, I leave it be. Like musicians who look for gigs from one week to the next, so are the majority of photographers. So what is my answer to the question then?

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Honestly, I don’t know. Or maybe I’m hesitant to answer too quickly because I am still learning. I am still experimenting and discovering what I can do.

This summer has been one of surprises. Pleasant surprises. I’ve heard many motivational and inspiring talks at the HOW Design conference. I returned to work with new ideas. Recently I was asked to photograph a music video shoot. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Nervous because my gear is not professional quality–you know what, it really bugs me that that even crossed my mind. First of all, I am not labeled a professional photographer and neither do I have the budget or resources of one. Second of all, my gear is quality gear. I love my gear; I used my own money to pay for my gear; I’m happy with them, and most importantly I know how to operate them. Lastly, a person can have the best camera in the world and still take crappy pictures. The camera doesn’t make the photographer; it doesn’t determine how great of a photographer you are. The camera is a tool.

Work with what you got.

That’s my quote.

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Stepping down from my soap box now.

Back to this shoot I was asked to do. As I mentioned, I was both excited and nervous; however, when I arrived and started shooting, the exhilaration erased the nervousness. I was energized and I felt the liberty to be creative. When it was finished and I returned home to upload the pictures, I couldn’t contain my excitement for how well the images turned out to be.

I had captured some great shots, and I was so pleased. You know that feeling you get when you know that your work is good? You know you can present it with confidence, because you’re thrilled with it. The next day I showed them to the client, and he, too, thought they were great. I wish I can show them to you now, but it will have to wait. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the pics of these stone fruit bruschetta.

Summer is not over yet. There are still more things to learn, more opportunities to be seized (or created). The question remains unanswered, but I’ll leave it that way…not going to rush until I’m satisfied with the answer I want to give.

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All images © 2013 Sriprae P. McDonald

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5 thoughts on “What Summer Brings

  1. Really interesting post Sriprae and I agree with you and feel like you do on a lot of levels!
    I blame the camera makers for very clearly distinguishing between professional and non-professional equipment (it’s their fault we get insecure!)
    How often though I see brilliant photographers using “non-pro” kit produce the most compelling and beautiful work and I’ve met some big shot “pro’s” with bags stuffed with expensive gear turning out boring snapshots. Sometimes I guess we’d all like some fancy gear but its not what makes great work. (Of course lots of people with great gear make great photographs too, but you get my point)
    I think that even if I was regularly getting paid really good money to do assignments I’d probably never label myself a Pro photographer (I just stopped there to think about why but I can’t describe it!! 🙂
    I’m extremely lucky in that I don’t have to rely on photography to survive (I’d be broke within weeks) so I can just enjoy doing it for what it is.
    Also a point I’ve noticed is that, strangely, some Pro’s I know are not really that good at photography but……are very very good at selling themselves, what they do, and fancy marketing.
    The only work I seem to be able to get is when I do it for free!!! Like in India recently for a charitable NGO. But, it brought me a lot of happiness and a sense of purpose I haven’t felt working as a second photographer for established wedding photographers here in London (even using their fancy gear!!)
    So let us continue with our gear that we know love (in my case one camera and a lens!!) and enjoy the process!! 🙂
    I have always admired your blog and it’s contents but don’t always catch your posts in my reader so I looked you up in my “blogs I follow” list today. It’s been nice to read this post and write back to you. My best wishes 🙂
    Sorry about this essay!!!!

    • Hello Peter!
      Let me just tell you how thrilled I was to read your comment. Thank you very much for taking the time to read the post and share your thoughts. Honestly, I was hoping you would comment. It was terrific to get your take on being a photographer and your opinion on pro vs. non-pro.
      Ah, you make a good point about the camera makers. Ugh…marketing ploy.
      I agree with you–let us continue with the gear that we love and enjoy doing that which brings us happiness…even if it means doing it for free. 😉 I think ultimately that is what makes photography so rewarding: the sheer delight of capturing moments of time.
      I am truly honored that you enjoy my blog. Yours is one of which I greatly admire. Your photography is excellent. I love being able to see your images and picture a story to accompany it. You capture life in that one fleeting moment with all its emotions. Exquisite!
      Best wishes to you, too, Peter! 🙂

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