They say that the eyes are a gateway to the soul. Photography means different things to different people from point and shooters to the pro’s I don’t know a single human being that doesn’t possess a camera. The eyes may well be the gateway but the photograph is the medium of archival. The photograph is the only true and indisputable evidence of history that exists in this world.
The oldest known picture of me is at the age of 4 with my uncles camera strapped around my body, you couldn’t get the thing away from me, we were destined to be together for better or worse.. It would be another 10 years before I would fully understand how complex and simple photography actually is, or maybe thats how long it took me to learn basic math.
It was about that time that I was discovering something else that would shape the rest of my life. I wasn’t like everybody else, I had a serious handicap, my eyes were broken and because of this my brain was essentially broken. I have two distinctive brain patters, one learned form my right eye and one learned from my left and they never agree on anything. So I spent the better part of the first 17 years of my life listening to people tell me what I would never be able to achieve. It went something like this, well with your eyesight Alan you will never be able to do…According to my teachers I was a pre failure.
It was my father who taught me the single most valuable lesson I have ever learned in life when he told me don’t do anything well that you don’t enjoy. From that day foreword my life would be spent focusing on the things I love in life, which all turned out to be my personal strengths and completely ignoring all the things I detest in life which have always been my biggest weaknesses. You don’t have to be the best at anything is this world, just good enough that there is somebody below you to clean up the mess.
It was through this process that I learned that my biggest strength is to bear witness to my own life, to document and share the tiny and seemingly insicnificant story of my simply journey. As a child I was taught by my peers that to be successful you must be the fastest, the strongest, to climb the highest mountain or explore the deepest valley. Society taught me that I must be the richest and most beautiful person to have the most, earn the most and be the most to be successful. Life has taught me that all of these things are true but only when compared to myself. It’s who and what I am compared to who I was and where I have come from that makes me successful. I may never be the best at anything but there is no limit for personal growth no matter who we are.
To do what you love more anything else in the world on your own terms makes you more powerful than any world leader, more successful than any Fortune 500 company founder and happier than all those people who write the bagillions of books we are suppose to read telling us everything that is inherently wrong with our lives and how to fix them. All of those above have to answer to a higher power, when you follow your truest passion even if you suck at it the only person you ever have to answer to is yourself. Its when we cease to compete against, perform for and attempt to please others that we completely remove the ability to fail from our lives.
So I have this friend who graduated from photography school and did everything they taught him but he couldn’t find success competing against all the others who’s path he was following. He put down his camera and picked up a hammer and started banging nails. Time went on and he missed his inner creative so again he picked up his camera but this time he did it under his own terms and only for himself. Today he is one of the most talented and successful photographers in the world. Rather than follow someone else’s path and attempt do it better he chose to make his own and let masses follow him.
No man can fail at that which he loves the most.