This day is a special day,
it is yours.
Yesterday slipped away,
it cannot be filled anymore with meaning.
About tomorrow nothing is known.
But this day, today, is yours,
make use of it.
Today you can make someone happy.
Today you can help another.
This day is a special day,
it is yours.
That means a lot! Thank you and my friends and those who’ve come and out of my life stay my inspiration! <3
:\ Sorry it’s been so long, and now that I’m back… It’s photo time!
So, there is a story with this one, but I’ll post it later when I’m not exhausted! Enjoy a diptych instead for now!
©Louis Fisher/Retna Ltd.
Since I last checked in: Missoula, Thanksgiving, Los Angeles, Retna Ltd, and more…
Well, I finished my Career Training program at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in October. Made a lot of good friends and experienced love on many levels.
While in Missoula, I begun training in the Energy Healing practice of Reiki (touch). This particular “art of human connection” has brought me out of a weird and stressful time, refreshing my mind and soul. I’m usually the first to knock “spirituality”, but I really felt something. Revelationary. I experienced a sense of place, love, belonging, hope and - above all - value. Self worth. A sense of confidence in myself, as a whole being, that I can’t deny. I love myself, truly and fully, like never before. It has opened me up, made me vulnerable and taught me how to love another being. Many others in fact! How to distinguish plutonic from romantic, and love both passionately and completely. To love both men and women, young and old. Reiki has cracked the cocoon of my old self, releasing a new more enlightened me. A version of myself that openly and graciously seeks more enlightenment! (I hope to find a Reiki teacher here in LA, to continue learning…)
As my photo program came to an end, as saddening as it was, new opportunities began to present themselves. A friend in NY got in touch and offered me a job in Los Angeles. Not just any job, but a job photographing. It was just freelance at first, so nothing to freak out about… but it was a start. :) Los Angeles, at the time, was last place I saw myself living. Loud, smoggy, spread out, plastic and pretentious. However, I learned in my last two years of life to turn any opportunity down before really exploring its possibilities. So I packed my things, and hit the road right before Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving eve, I arrived in Portland, OR and stayed with a couple friends I had made in Montana. They were so unbelievably hospitable, even offered me to stay for Thanksgiving and [his] birthday. I did, and loved every minute. It was one of the first times I was able to let go and just be. To be myself, uninhibited by fear of being accepted, I was the completely honest with myself and those around me. It felt amazing. I fell in love with everyone I encountered. (Plus the photos I took that Thanksgiving reflected the joy and connection we all shared.)
After leaving Portland, I drove to San Francisco, stayed in a motel, and woke the next day as early as possible. I got into downtown SanFran around 8am, parked my car, grabbed coffee and a muffin, and hopped in my bike. It was so incredibly liberating to cycle in Downtown; with all the hills, no one out on the roads, I felt like a post-apocalyptic traveler with nothing but a camera and a bicycle. It reminded me how much I’d miss cycling in LA. Followed it up with yoga in the park and some fresh fruit.
I got to visit with an old friend from Norfolk, VA while I was there. We had lunch and she showed me around the Grad Building at the SFAI. It was really nice to see her, and it reminded me of how long I had been away from the place I most called home. It was nostalgic, even sad, when we spoke of the “old days” in Norfolk, where everything seemed just a bit easier back then.
Once on the road again, it was a straight shot to LA. What a beautiful drive! I took a ton of photos while driving (dangerous, I know, my bad) of the sun setting, the hills and the giant wind turbines. It was utterly magical. I’d do it again just for the photos! :)
By the time I got to my new home, it was dark and my “new roommates” were already there. However, I was the first to sleep in the house. It was a long, deep breath. Really filled my lungs, tried to imagine all that I had done to get me to this point. All the people I had met, places I had traveled, jobs I had worked and tears I cried. For the last two years, I worked my butt off to get here. (Not specifically Los Angeles, but somewhere grown up.) And to me, right now, this was the place!
The next few days of unpacking and adjusting, to the climate and to my new roommates, really kept me distracted from my next big hurdle. Work. I had the freelance job lined up, and now it was time to put myself to the test. I was ready to be an adult. No more internships, no more test runs, no more schooling. This was the highboard. The jump off point where I sank or swam. My job was explained to me as being “a game, that you should try to win, beat the other photographers to the shot.” It was already more competitive than I liked, and that made me nervous. Not because I lacked confidence in my skills, but rather because I hated the idea that someone “lost.” Why did it have to be this way? Can’t everyone win? Can’t we all get our shots, get paid, and be happy?
After just the first day, I realized this was not the case. The sad truth of it was no. We couldn’t all get “the shot” and get paid. Only a handful would get “the shot” because of how we (the line up of photographers) handled ourselves. They were aggressive, loud, profane, mean and downright disgusting. They treated the people we photographed like cattle, not even attempting to make a connection. The genuine connection, the human exchange was why I fell in love with photography. They either forgot that, or never felt it, because they were cold and calloused in their approach. Even the talent felt how rough they were, and reacted accordingly. They gave us nothing to work with. They didn’t even smile sometimes. Every image had a $$$ sign, and was nothing more than a paycheck in the mail. A lot of them even chose “buy-out” agreements, where they didn’t even retain the rights to their own images. Sold to the highest bidder. For what? Money? If that is why they do what we do, then they picked the wrong industry. They missed the point somewhere down the line. Passion and love for your craft. (I know I sound naive and idealistic, but why do it if it doesn’t make you happy.) You only live one life. Make it count!!!!
After realizing the problem, my brain went into solution mode. What could I do to help them? What could I bring to this hardened group of stubborn and aggressive veteran photographers? (Especially something that someone else hadn’t already tried!) I had to find a way to bring the joy back into what we did. A way to make them laugh, and make the talent more comfortable. They hated us and only showed up because PR begged them. That had to change. After brainstorming a few ideas, I decided to try a few out. I tried not yelling to get attention from the talent, but that was basically making me invisible. I had to be present but not loud. Audibly loud that is. The next idea worked brilliantly. I chose to wear the craziest pants I own. Tiger print, bell-bottomed yoga pants. They were so bright and full of life, the talent ate it up! They just immediately grabbed everyone’s attention, and made them smile. It worked. However, the other photog’s weren’t to please with this, considering it meant I won, and they lost. They told me that I was being unprofessional and “a distraction.” I just flat out told them that they’d have to deal with it or join in to get the shot. Some laughed at the prospect, but most just scoffed and waved me off. Still, I got the shot (and I didn’t have to yell)…
About a week later, I worked an event for Disney on Ice, where a lot of talent brought their children along with them. This was altogether frightening and overwhelming for children. (Not the Disney on Ice part, but the Red Carpet walk.) It was rapid-fire flashes, yelling and screaming, and just aggressive energy towards the talent and their families. I was amazed at how brave (or foolish) they were to bring their kids there. I was overwhelmed almost everytime, and I wasn’t even being photographed. Here, another idea got to be tested. I felt this one was good for this particular event, considering the nature of the theme. Disney. Cartoon characters that kids loved and felt really comfortable/familiar with. The other photogs were already upsetting the kids, and the tears started to fall. I could see the distress on the parents’ faces and I saw my queue. So with all my might I put on my Mickey voice and gave it a shot. “Excuse me, Mr. McDermott! Oh boy! Gosh, it’s good to see you!” His head spun right around, with his kids in toe, all with smiles on their faces. I was almost more surprised than them, when they not only looked back at me with smiling faces, but even walked back down the carpet to stand right in front of me. So I kept it going. Right on to Goofy and Donald Duck. They ate it up and my shots were golden! Right before they walked on to do interviews, Mr. McDermott came up to me, thanked me and told me how much he appreciated what I did. “I’ve never seen a photographer do that! Really brilliant. Thank you. You made my kids’ night!” And right before he walked away, “Oh, and you’re really good at the voices! You should work for Disney!” I laughed and thanked him for returning. Another success. I felt I had found my way of getting my shots, the genuine connection, and the joy of photography all in one fell swoop. :) I forgot almost entirely about the “competition.”
After a few weeks of working the Carpet, I begun to get a rhythm. A flow of how I worked with the talent. It really felt good. My style was unorthodox, but it was mine, and I wasn’t getting as much slack as when I first started. I guess the old farts figured out I was not going to cave so easily. By the holidays, I had racked up a decent month of shooting and hoped my images were good enough to sell online through my agency. Now begun the waiting game.
With a week off from work and time to get my living space organized, I felt the creep of loneliness set in. Just on time, however, some friends of friends (from MT) invited me out for a few music/art events. I photographed, obviously, and they really loved the photos. It was nice to be appreciated. To feel valued when I worked hard. Also, really great to meet new friends here in LA.
On a much sadder note, my grandfather is dying. He has pancreatic cancer, and has been told that it doesn’t look good. My dad says he’s beginning to get really depressed and losing hope. He is old. No one expects he’s going to be around more than a year (that’s the best possible situation). They say he’s not handling it well. My mother helped me book a flight to go visit him this coming week in Florida, a chance to say goodbye. I am not even sure what to think. I’m scared. I’m scared of seeing him so depressed. I don’t know what I can do to make him feel any better. I hope that just being with him cheers him up.
I’m not afraid of death, just the idea of being alone. I think that my grandfather fears both, and now that death is so close, he’s panicking. All the things he did and didn’t get to do. All the time he wished he had. I don’t want to feel like I wasted a moment of my life. I hope I never regret what my life becomes. I hope that when its my time to go out, that I am satisfied and content with what I’d left in my wake.
To close this entry, I am excited for a new year, sad for people dear to me to be leaving, but hopeful and excited for the awesome potential of human connection. Unforgettable human connection. I love you. All of you. Stay smiling, stay true, and stay you.