The Pursuit of Happiness

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be happy. In our society, happiness often appears to correlate with monetary accumulation, or some obvious display of wealth, like the newest phone or the biggest TV. I have been admittedly guilty of falling into this trap time and time again. I could not tell you how many times in my past I have felt down or depressed about something or other and gone shopping to alleviate whatever random sadness I felt in my heart. And you know what? You DO feel better for a little while, but ultimately, I think you come to a point when you look around yourself and your surroundings and you realize that you have too much STUFF and that none of that stuff really makes you feel good inside. Obviously, this is not a new observation, but it is one I’ve been pondering quite a bit in the most recent months, as my husband and I discuss some very large impending life changes, which I’ve hinted at before, and will be talking about more in the next month or so.

Thinking about living at a level far, far below what I’m used to financially is very scary to me. I’m a worrier at heart, and even though I know I am making the right decision as far as my future goes, it is alarming and frightening to lose so much control over my life and my circumstances. To go from totally stable employment to something that isn’t stable and doesn’t offer anything in the way of concrete financial benefits, is terrifying. And yet, even more scary than that is the thought that I will never step out of my comfort zone and take a chance with my life, that I will never know what I am fully capable of if I continue to live and work inside of this small box I’ve constructed for myself.

To compound matters, several people very close to me are constantly reminding me of the fact that I’m about to do something risky, something that has the potential to completely screw up my life. I wish these people knew how much I desperately crave their approval, and the fact that they are so wary, implies to me (even if they do not realize it) that they have absolutely no faith in my abilities or my talent. And that hurts so deeply inside I could never put it into words. I suppose on one level, I realize they do not approve because they are scared and worried about me because they love me so much, but at the same time, it feels like a little knife inside my chest whenver I think about it. I wish they could just BELIEVE in me because so often I feel like I am seeking their approval and I never feel like I really ever have it when approval is so contingent on caution and on not taking any kind of chance.

In any case, those are just some relatively deep thoughts on this chilly Thursday morning. I hope to have some actual pictures up on the blog shortly, as I have been a shooting FIEND these past few weeks, with about a zillion more portrait sessions lined up.


Dreams Deferred, But Not Denied

I used to sit at my desk in college and dream. I would dream about the future and the exciting job I would some day have. I don’t think I ever imagined that my career would involve a series of bland cubicles, wasted time, and frustrating coworkers. Does anyone dream of spending their most vibrant years trapped in a gray cubicle for forty hours a week, doing mind-numbing work that in the end, doesn’t seem to matter all that much anyway?

I remember being in elementary school and attending a local church daycare a few days a week in summer. Sometimes I would walk to the bathroom on my own and I would pause in the walkway, staring outside at the cars traveling on the road ahead. I would wish with all of my might that I was inside one of those cars, free and easy, driving under the gleaming summer sun, instead of stuck inside, under the thumb of some authority I neither respected or cared for. I never thought I would do the same thing as an adult.

I used to be so certain that I was going to make something of myself. I was going to be a famous poet and writer, maybe even an artist, and no one was going to stop me. But I guess life steps in and at some point you realize that the chances of your being able to do what you love for a living and actually getting paid for it are fairly slim. So you dial down your dreams a notch or two, thinking that someday soon, once SOMETHING happens in life, you’ll get back to them. And then a few years pass, and you turn the dial down just a little bit lower, and then lower yet again, until you’re left with nothing but dryness and an ache in the empty pit of your stomach.

I was sitting in a meeting the other day, and people were discussing the minutia of this or that, and as they were speaking, I looked around the room. Who among us had dreamed as a child that we would some day be little office drones wearing nice little office suits and talking about dull little office concepts? No child ever says they want to be a businessman or woman when they grow up, do they? We always want to be something fantastical: an astronaut, a ballerina, a doctor, a singer. Sometimes we’re kept from our dreams by inescapable physical realities: the would-be ballerina who has a leg deformity, the would-be singer who is tone deaf. But most of the time, I think we stop ourselves because it’s too hard or too scary to step outside of our comfort zone and be the person we want to be, or even the person we know we can be. We hide our authenticity behind a facade of happiness, because after all, why shouldn’t we be happy? We have a nice job in an air-conditioned building, decent hours, a good salary, and nice benefits like health insurance and a retirement package, and all the while our souls die just a little bit more every day.

But I am tired now of waiting for the future. I am tired of putting what I want to do on the back burner. I want to live for myself now. I don’t want to live for anyone else. I don’t want to answer to anyone else. I want to do something that makes me feel important, needed, and fulfilled.

I want to die failing spectacularly at something I love, instead of living successfully doing something I hate. And I am taking steps to make that happen. Much more to come.

Strip Club Fine Art Photographer

One of my favorite things about blogging with WordPress is their built-in status screen. Here, I can see how many people looked at my blog on a given day, as well as any links that were clicked. I can also see what search terms people used to find my blog. It looks like my post about Wesley’s Booby Trap was worth it, because today I got this hilarious result:

How many people can claim THIS as a search term???

My Very Expensive Mistake

Penelope is ashamed of my idiocy.

So, you know how they always say teenagers have that cavalier, “it can’t happen to me” attitude? I found out over the weekend that when it comes to my D90, I have sadly had that attitude for far too long. Meaning….I never bought a case for my D90, instead just hanging it around my neck when I shot photographs, and storing it in a backpack with various lenses when traveling out of town. Oh, I’ll NEVER drop my camera, I thought with confidence. I’m too smart to let it get out of my hands. I’ve had an SLR since I was in college! I know what I’m doing!

This is when Fate, finding me too cocky for words, decided to step in over the weekend.

I was loading a bunch of stuff in my car on Saturday in preparation for going to see my parents and extended family for an early Christmas. My camera was securely (AHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) resting inside of my laundry hamper, on top of the clothes I was planning on washing at the parental units’ house. At some point — perhaps because my hands and arms were full? — I heard a loud BANG, looked to my left, and saw my camera laying on the hard, cold, unforgiving concrete. A vile profanity spewed from my lips as I fell to the ground, cradling my poor camera in my arms.

I finally got a good look at the damage when I got to my parents house. The polarizing filter I had bought as protection for my lens glass did its job; the filter was completely shattered, but the glass in the lens (18 – 105 mm) was fine! Oh, how I rejoiced, thinking how SMART I had been to put that cheap filter on the lens! Oh no, it would never happen to me. I’m too smart for that.

And then, I tried taking a picture with the lens.

No focus.

Lens unable to extend to its fullest.

The sound of something inside the lens loose and rattling around.

I honestly thought I was going to be sick. The lens was destroyed in the fall. Relief that my camera was okay was tempered by the fact that this lens retails for $300, which is a LOT of money to have to shell out for a stupid, dumb, idiotic mistake on my part. I hated myself all day yesterday, and there is still quite a bit of lingering hatred floating around in my irritated state today. I simply cannot afford to replace the lens right now, so I’m going to have to stick with my 50mm Nikkor lens, which I love, but which is a prime lens and therefore has no zoom capabilities. My only other lens is my 105mm macro lens, which certainly isn’t good for shooting pictures on Christmas morning.

In any case, lesson learned. It CAN happen to you, even when you think you are the most careful person in the world. It just takes a few minutes of utter thoughtlessness, and then there you are, without your favorite walking-around lens, and having to save for something you didn’t expect.

But before I buy my new lens? I’m buying a case for that damn camera.

Narcissism – And a New Blog Focus

I’ve often believed that only a narcissist thinks that other people are interested in what he has to say. I think we all have a bit of a narcissist in us, don’t you? Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many personal blogs floating around this Series of Tubes we call the Internet. I know I wouldn’t have this blog if I didn’t think my photography was worthy of being looked at or purchased.

Well, I’ve decided to embrace my inner egotist and change up the focus of  my blog a bit. Writing only about this little side business I call Facing the Lens has been an interesting experiment, but one that has probably failed in many ways. My posts (let’s face it) aren’t terribly interesting or engaging, and my constant moments of existential crisis with regard to my craft can come off as whiny or needy.

And so, I’ve changed the name of my blog from Facing the Lens: Fine Art Photography to Facing the Lens: A Life Lived In Images.  I’ll probably end up tweaking that title at some point, but you get the idea. No longer will this blog be solely about my business, but will instead be more about my (ever-so-interesting) life. You too can thrill to tales of my mundane existence! Explore my trials and tribulations through the photographs I plan on posting! Literally see what I made for dinner! Gaze in awe upon endless photographs of my cats! Read about how annoyed I got at the post office!

Yes, it is truly an exciting time to be you.

An Ode To Wesley’s Boobie Trap

Click on the images to enlarge them for the full-on, glamorous effect!

For as long as I can remember, when driving from Birmingham to Memphis, we always turned right at Wesley’s Boobie Trap onto Highway 78 in Sumiton, Alabama. This sad, decrepit little strip joint has been on the corner of Highway 78 for YEARS, and I’ve always gotten a good chuckle out of seeing it. I’d love to know what it must look like inside, but frankly I would be afraid to even walk through the door. Can you imagine what you would see if you shown a black-light in there??

In any case, my mom and I drove up to see some relatives in Memphis over the Thanksgiving weekend, and since I had brought my camera, my mom suggested that I take a picture of the Boobie Trap. We were disappointed to see that the newer sign was no longer there (it featured a nude woman with the word BOOBIE over her chest, the O’s representing her breasts), but everything else was the same as always. I wanted to share these pictures I took with my blog readers, because I think the Boobie Trap is awesome in about a million ways and it makes me laugh!

Note: The pictures clearly aren’t the best, but that guy walking around in the parking lot had me weirded out. Who knew that there would be cars in the parking lot at 7 A.M. on Thanksgiving morning??

Photography Goals (and Some Complaining!)

I actually have a photographic goal for the week! Huzzah! It’s certainly taken me long enough, no? And really, when I admit it, I don’t have a PHOTOGRAPHY goal this week so much as I do a PHOTOGRAPHY SELLING goal. No, I don’t want to sell X number of photos by X day. Instead, my goal for the week is to get all of my photographs finally listed on ArtFire. Etsy has been pissing me off a LOT lately, and you can read about some of their most recent inane screw-ups in the following threads:

It feels more and more like it’s time to jump the Etsy ship. The only way to be seen on there is to renew your items constantly, and those twenty cents add UP! Instead of fixing their horrific search engine, they urge you to renew, renew, renew. Bah! I’m done playing THAT little game! I don’t think I will ever leave Etsy entirely, as it’s somewhat of a known name at this point and it has SO much potential if only the folks in charge would get their act together, but I am less than thrilled with it right now. Way less than thrilled.