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And so, once the song got stuck in her head just enough, Dorothy Gale blindly followed the yellow brick road, with gusto. Spoiler alert: tragic mistake on her part. You witness a witch's feet retreat into her calves like a bag of fruit roll ups or a party horn with no more breath left in it, and then let a choir of helium-sipping dwarves sway you into treading Crayola rubble? Dorothy: please, abeg.
Seriously though, while I've been more like Alice, tumbling, in delicious fear, down the bright rabbit hole that is my career path, I've often wondered where I could have taken a page from Dorothy’s book instead.
My epiphany? Charge forward, through the fear.
Inspiration is borne of action, not inaction. Habitually, we of the artistic ilk wait for inspiration to visit us as a sandman, or a rapturous night thief. We're conditioned to wait for it -- t's a byproduct of the Boomers' American Dream. In the same way, we often expect our career to magically unfold, while staring into an untouched canvas... or a black mirror.
Sure, occasionally Glinda the Good Witch will swing by in her Baby Blue Cadillac and yeet some fairy dust in our general direction, changing those Red Dr. Jays into Ruby Jimmy Choos. But what do we do if she gets stuck between the Holland Tunnel and I-295? I mean, everybody drives differently, but Kansas is hella far in either case.
Unsurprisingly, a portrait session answered this for me, undoing the myth that nothing can be done while waiting for inspiration. But something can always be done.
Admittedly, I stumbled upon this moment of clarity, since it wasn't until I had finished the very last image in the set, weeks and weeks later. The portrait session itself was barely planned. It was mostly an "if it happens, then dope" situation, and most of my energy was actually spent catching up with the subject, a friend who is typically much, much farther away on account of living in another state. So, there was no mood board, no lead-up dialogue. Just free time.
My own yellow brick rabbit hole is littered with fears of all creeds. Stagnancy is probably the one I push through the most in pursuit of inspiration. It wasn't until I began reaching out into that fear, that I learned inspiration really isn't as much a boon from thin air as it is a bone in thick air.
It wasn't the fact that I suddenly had someone suddenly appear in front of me to photograph, it was the decision to make an opportunity out of that free time. Instead of taking an opportunity, I pull out my proverbial sketch book and begin to draw -- in this case obviously, it's with a camera and some light.
For some, ‘always staying ready’ is not only exhausting but highly improbable. The next best thing I can do is respect inspiration just as much as I respect Glinda's Baby Blue Caddy and the very real traffic she traverses while visiting every living, breathing artist. So, until the next time I'm stricken with mana from the glistening heavens, I'll be trying things.
How about you?
- Inspiration is borne of action, not inaction.
- Congested traffic respects no one.
- You wanna ride in Glinda the Good Witch's Baby Blue Cadillac, don't you?
- This is a portrait website so... 👇🏿
Here's some of that impromptu portrait session: