Life is always about finding our “comfy spot”. Whether it is that special place on the couch, or climbing into bed and tossing until your positioning is just right or immediately changing into something stretchy & cozy after being out all day, it just feels so NICE to be comfortable. We buy “comfort foods”, save up some money so that we live comfortably and we seek out company, situations and work that makes us feel comfortable. At the same time, we avoid everything that might encourage discomfort. Life is just more enjoyable that way – well in the moment at least.
That’s the problem with comfort, while it provides us with temporary contentment, that is pretty much all it does. I was happy doing what was familiar to me, because in the moment it felt nice, safe and comfortable. But when it came to developing as a photographer, furthering myself to be better, I felt stuck. It seemed that although it is inspiring to look at other people’s work or to go to a lecture and hear someone speak about all the things that I could be dong differently, I was accountable to no one to actually follow through. I could always give into the temptation to feel content and not struggle through the unfamiliar.
I blogged a few weeks ago about getting selected to participate in the Magnum workshop in Toronto. My experience was ultimately priceless, but the journey over those 5 days was not what I’ve been used to. To sum up the week in one word…uncomfortable. Now someone reading this might think that is a really bad thing, and at the time it didn’t feel good, that’s for sure. But it was the BEST thing that could have happened to me.
The theme for the week was “diversity in Toronto” and each student had to come up with a concept on how they were going to tell that story through their photos. I was drawn to the idea of exploring barber shops in Toronto. I love the old-school feel, coupled with the shops’ own flare. Everyday we were to go shooting, collecting photos for a showing that was going to be open to the public containing all of our work. Everyday, we brought in our photos to get feedback and ideas on how to improve. I started off my week with feelings of discomfort, “Why did I sign up for this?” I asked myself as I made my way to the first day. And I asked myself that question repeatedly throughout the week *lol* The more feedback I received, the more uncomfortable I got. From day one, I was intimidated by the talent in my class, discouraged by my own lack of confidence that I could be photojournalistic when it was not wedding related and full of fear that I would fail. “I can’t do this!!” I thought to myself. But what I realized at the end of it all is that the discomfort was really a sign of me growing, learning and tapping into the unfamiliar. It made me look at the world, my photography and my approach to life differently. Sure, comfortable feels good…but uncomfortable, while it might feel bad at the onset, is what makes you grow! After all, they don’t call them “growing pains” for nothing *wink*
This workshop was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, professionally speaking. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, required me to be engaged and made me reflect on what holds me back. At the end of the week I came to realize that, for me, this workshop had more to do with what I could learn about myself in this journey and was less about whether or not I produced great images. A HUGE thank you to Magnum and Moises for inspiring me and pushing me to my full potential.
So, without further ado, have a look to see some of the work that pushing myself to be “uncomfortable” produced *wink