I scan through all of my pictures from this year. Including editorials, life moments and client work. I sometimes forget just how many images I actually take yearly and as I scroll past each memory nostalgia in the pit of my stomach swirls around like a little tornado.
So many memories made and documented. So many moments or extreme joy and other times extreme doubt. This year I have done the most blogging in my seven (coming on eight) years of being a photographer. The greatest thing about this space is that I have it. A little place to write about these moments that pass me by. It never dawned on me once that no one could be reading. I just hoped that maybe those that do read some of my posts take something away from them for themselves... I hope. It's always been a diary for me.
As I stare at all these images I become confused. What can I say now? I usually have so much to say but now I am letting those memories flood me and trying hard to put them down in a way that I can reflect. I guess I will jump into it the best I can.....
In January I told A that "2015 was the year of trying". I think I succeeded in that sense. I have a note book crammed with papers stapled together of all the things I was going to try to accomplish this year. Names of online places to be featured, magazines, and contacts. All the shoots I was going to do in list form. Drawings of new Secret Garden characters and designs I was going to create. Obviously I haven't completed everything I wrote or drew about but really that wasn't my intention.
My intention was to just try and I did. I tried a lot. I reached out to more people then I ever thought I would. I put my hands up in the air and just went for it. I did what I felt was the right thing to do in my heart and I just tried. Sometimes when I tried I would be rewarded, sometimes when I tried I would be rejected and other times when I tried nothing would really come of it.
One of the first things I tried was reviving my Secret Garden series. The series became something really intense for me this year. It was always going to be a little challenge for myself and also a little world I could escape to when the pressure of real life came flooding in. I guess some people had their opinions about why I was creating it, in all honesty I always create for myself first. It may sound selfish. There is never an intended reason in the beginning. I think "I need to create, what do I want to create" and then I start the process of making it happen. I never know where the images will end up or how they will be received. I just create them then try to place them in a home. Sometimes that home is a print, sometimes it's a space in a magazine and other times it's for the eyes of my clients only. It is never to become viral or to get more followers. It's always about expressing and challenging myself. I love creating.
Last winter I felt sort of down. Sad that the cold weather had set in. I longed for the days of photographing in a flower field feeling the breeze of fresh warm air touch my face. I was however hopeful. I wanted to photograph and I was coming down from being obsessed with my film camera. (That I still love dearly). I wanted to just create some images. I didn't want a lot of fluff around them I just wanted to create some beautiful images with my model friends. I was able to do that in a beautiful green house with a beautiful model. I was also starting to shoot for the love of just shooting. It was little dead butterflies and flowers. I would catch the light peeking through the window beautifully and feel the need to capture it.
At this time Secret Garden was also revived. It came to me while showering. As many things usually do. I joke with A that I do my best thinking in the shower. I began creating the characters I had locked in my imagination. Choking on the fumes of spray paint. Hanging 60 wisteria's to my attic ceiling with only tape. It became a joy. It became the most fun I had had in a while.
Nothing really prepared me for what would come next.... Secret Garden went viral. It was intense. I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Blog after blog, magazine after magazine were contacting me for feature's and interviews. People were sharing my work everywhere. E-mails were pouring in. Highly regarded photographers were sharing and commenting. My stomach was in knots for days. I was happy, overwhelmed, excited for my teams that worked on the series with me but also nervous.
See the flip side to something going viral is the criticism, the hateful comments and the way that people will talk about you in those comments when they don't know a single thing about you or your reasons behind something. However, I learned so much from the experience. I was e-mailed by many wonderful artists asking me questions and I was eager to try to help them. There are many who shared their kind words and thoughts with me and told me how much I inspired them and I was happy that I could do that for someone else. I keep those people in my heart.
"Try" I try to move past hatefulness and I try to realize that some comments on the internet don't define me as an artist or as a person. Like any other human being I have made mistakes. I "try" to learn from them and move forward. It is all we really can do. I always say that you can't make everyone happy. I learned that first hand when the series went viral.
I am still working on the series. I have some massive shoots to prepare and I think 2016 is going to be me buckling down and making those shoots happen.
Though the Garden going viral did help, I still had to try. Nothing comes easy especially not in the photographic world. So yes I was still e-mailing people for features. Reaching out to them showing the the garden world linking them to other articles. Just as something can catch fire the flame can fizzle out just as fast. So keeping with "trying" was something I knew I had to do.
It wasn't just the series. I was trying to make contacts in other areas. Submitting to magazine's I knew I had no chance of getting into. Reaching out to clients. It's always a lot of work this "trying thing".
Spring had finally sprung and I was so rejuvenated. I had shot for Secret Garden almost every month at this point. Looking back at it now I can't believe how much work I did. As the weather warmed the attic became less comfortable and with my trip to Europe coming up I had to close the attic door and tell the garden wall I would be back in a few months time.
Europe.... Oh Europe. I love Europe. I can't even express into words how I feel about Europe. I think Europe is quite literately in my blood. Makes sense that technically all of my ancestors lived there. Of course I would yearn for that kind of lifestyle.
Croatia (my home land haha) was first on the list. It was the second time A would visit Croatia with me. I love that he doesn't understand a word of Croatian but he loves it there just as much as I do. It's so fun to see him being mixed up in the culture.
We always stay with my grandmother on her house on a beautiful little island called Betina. My grandmother is the belle of the ball. She's little miss popular and always has friends visiting. They will trade grapes and others fruits. My favorite moments are when the island folk will begin chatting with A in Croatian. He looks at them and just smiles. My grandmother chimes in "he doesn't speak Croatian". I taught him how to say "Hi, my name is Adam". He can say that sentence so well now that people think he is Croatian. I get a chuckle out of the whole ordeal.
Hours of flying and finally we land. I feel like I am high on all sorts of drugs. Flying and the time change always does this to me. It's so hot in Croatia for May. It feels like July. I am loving it. My brother in law comes and gets us from the airport. I am sticking my hand out the window as we drive to the island. Palm tree's are always a great sight, and I see yellow flowers blooming everywhere. I absolutely just love it. Every moment of it.
We spend the first week with my grandmother and my sister, her husband and my amazing niece Juby. We planned to be there together. I love every minute spent with Juby. The five of us travel around Croatia together. It is one of the best weeks of my life. When I think back on it now I still sense the feeling of joy. I photograph Juby every chance I can get. I could candidly photograph her forever.
A and I leave Croatia and we are sad that my sisters family won't be joining us but we know the show must go on. We venture to Italy, Paris, Switzerland and Germany. We meet our friend Angela in Paris and spend 3 days in an extravagant Parisian apartment. We drink wine and take pictures. I feel like Paris is home. I don't want to leave.
A takes me to Switzerland. We have been driving for hours. We are hungry and tired. It's night and there is nothing to eat anywhere. I am mad because I am tired and hungry. We have to wait forever to take a lift. I am also mad about that. I am afraid of heights. I give A a dirty look. He tells me to just wait.
We make it to the top of a giant mountain. As I walk in the dark I breathe in the freshest air I have ever breathed. I look to my right and realize where we are. It's heaven. I loose every negative feeling I have ever had.
The next day I stand on our balcony off the edge of the world. I cry tears of happiness. I feel lucky to be alive. To be taking in such beauty. The last days of the trip are spent photographing my model friend Kyra. It's so much fun as we frolic in her garden.
Then Germany sight seeing and it's time to go. I am so sad. I am not ready to go home yet. I tell A several times I don't want to leave.
After Europe all I want to do is shoot. I get a surge of energy photographically. It's too hot now to shoot in attic. So I reach out to my model friends. I beg them to shoot with me. I try to shoot as much as possible. I call on Jilly (my make-up artist) every weekend to shoot. She is always eager and I love it. We shoot like crazy throughout summer and Autumn together. I work with a good designer friend and it makes me want to sew again.
I am working on writing a book, I have a gallery show for Secret Garden, I am shooting weddings, I am constantly sending e-mails. I am trying. I am trying every chance I can get. I try to apply to the Nick Knight Mastered program. I finally get in. (review about the course coming soon). I hold my first workshop, then my second. I love meeting so many creatives. I truly enjoy hosting my own workshops!
I move to Montreal with A for a month. I try it out. I download sewing classes online. I learn about tailoring, and embroidery. I am designing a collection. I am excited to shoot it next year. I just keep trying.
Finally the year is coming to an end. I look back at it and I feel like it is one of my favorite years thus far. It wasn't always filled with wonder and excitement. At times it was filled with quite the opposite. As bad news about different things surface and affect me. Like every other human everything can't always be fine and dandy. My life is no exception. For all the great photographic things that happen, the accomplishments and good times there are always negative things just waiting to jump on board.
However, I just try. As this year has been about trying. I just try to see the better things in life and take those moments in a keep those memories dear. I don't know what 2016 has to offer. I don't know what I will be doing or what path I will take but I hope I try.
Have a wonderful New Year to all xoxo