I’m Back: Self Complexity and Living your Art

It’s been over a year since my last blog post. To my After Hour Faithfuls I say these words, “I’m back.” But not in some vainglorious, prodigal son-esque, self proclaimed “return” to the blog world type of way; although the idea of redemption does play a role.

Self redemption, at least.

The goal was simple. Graduate college and pursue this dream of being a “professional photographer.” (I put this title in quotes because I still don’t know what that means). So I did. I graduated, built a photo studio, and took on this new full-time role. Emails, promos, marketing, producing, buying, learning, shooting, and editing. It was exciting. I was able to do it all, to my taste, on my time, and most importantly, without school. I was living the life of a photographer!

Unfortunately, I was living the life of a photographer.

I’ll save this topic for another post, but to say it plainly, taking photos is the easiest part of the whole gig. And there’s a lot less shooting that goes on than one might expect. If you know me, then you know that the only thing greater than my desire to succeed is my stubbornness. I’m not one to ask for help. If I’m going to do something, I might as well go all out. If I had to pull 2 all-nighters to meet a deadline with 2 shoots in between, I would do it. The weight of my gear bag, feathers compared to the weight of hypoxic brain cells beating against my forehead. “It is what it is,” I always told myself. I worked too hard to get to this point, I can’t give up now. If this is what it takes, then just do it. Because you love it….. right?

Yes. I do. This journey has blessed me in so many ways. I’ve been on opposite sides of the camera to some incredible individuals in the most inspiring venues and elaborate locations this past year. I’d say I’m doing alright as far as photographers go. “I am a photographer.” - A sentence that I could not say with confidence for the first few years with a camera. Ironically, the moment I finally believed it, is the moment where everything fell apart.

It is an issue of Self Complexity. People with high self complexity see themselves in many different ways. Aside from your occupation, you also understandably belong to other roles and memberships. You may be a manager of a restaurant, but also a daughter, mother, friend, lover, artist, humanitarian, social butterfly. So a negative event at work has a smaller emotional impact on you as compared to someone who’s life revolves solely around their job. Here, the pitfall of my all or nothing mentality. I wanted to make a name for myself so badly. So badly that I gave up everything that wasn’t photography. My initial identity as a dream-chasing, college student who blogged about life, sports, personal inspiration, and late-night revelations was stripped down to simply a “portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Bellevue, Wa.” A tagline. My self concept lacked complexity. As business fluctuated, so did I. Art never slept, neither did I. In this case, Art also rarely made time for friends, family, or spiritual wellness. I was a photographer. And only a photographer.

Every artist hopes to have their work inspire others, to have people believe in what they do. The only way to do this, is to live what you create. I was a photographer, and I wanted people to believe it. The problem was, I was only shooting client based jobs. With little time to shoot personal work, I lacked the satisfaction of creating a piece from pure inspiration to completion without any exterior input. The very satisfaction that fueled my love for this art in the first place.

The words, “I am” are potent; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you are claiming, has a way of reaching back and claiming you.” - Al Kitselman

I am a photographer. But I’m also a son, a trustworthy friend, a hard worker, and a dreamer. I’m also a writer. Calling this blog my road to self redemption would be lame. But it is one of the ways I’m reclaiming my identity as a passionate individual who strives to inspire others.

Thank you for your support these last few years. Thank you for believing in me in times when I did not.

I’m back.

-Amir

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