Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, December 2011. The camera stares at, grins at me lying on my hostel bed in tropical heat–I shoot angry glares back. The camera has been kicking my butt every day for some weeks and I hate it right now. Despise photography. But I need to pick it up and go create something. Need an outlet. A dark storm hovers in my mind, I am depressed, all purpose seems lost and recent events including a suicide made me fall in a black hole devoid of all light. I walk the world feeling completely disconnected from human life. Despising myself and my existence. As always, light this bright casts some very dark shadows. Despite an abundance of sun light in tropical Santa Cruz I have been in the shadows for days. I like extremes–I seek extremes. Fitting then I guess, that I am in the darkest of moods in the brightest of warm tropical weather.
Get out. Walk. Standing still never worked for me. Must keep moving. Or shadows catch up. Grab the damn camera and walk, walk the streets of this hot, weird and interesting melting pot of a city. Get out of this hostel from hell. Walk, damn legs, walk. A market appears. A gigantic chaotic market bigger than any market I have seen in Asia or anywhere else. A world inside a world. No hiding here. Not a single gringo in sight anywhere. I break out the camera. Channel my darkness into looking, seeing, shooting, making images.
These are two of my favourite pictures from Bolivia and I like putting them together. They look like one image, almost. The top image is from the street I lived on and an easy image to make. The second image is my favourite from Bolivia, women at the largest market ever in the history of all markets–that I have been to. Filled at least 15 square city blocks. Hard to shoot this image. NO ONE wanted to be part of any photos. Had to steal images as I walked around being the most noticeable person in the entire city.
Memories are funny. These words are written about a year after the images were made. And I want to return to Bolivia. Have been on my mind recently. Calls me back. It is one of the hardest places to work in that I have experienced. I was in a dark, dark place for the 10 days I was there. But it was a very interesting place filled with awesome people and places of contrast and extremes. That’s why I want to return of course. The challenge. And I need the extremes. To create. To feel alive.
Is there a point coming up in our near future you ask? Yes! As Mythbusters have proved, free energy is fiction. My creativity needs fuel. I agree with Dave duChemin that imitation, not inspiration, kills creativity. My creative engine must be fueled by a mixture of two things: My own energy and external inputs to ignite the energy! The external inputs do not inspire me to imitate, they inspire me to create. To get out there in the world again and create, pick up the camera, fire up the spaceship. It is extremely important for me every day to fuel my creative engine. I’ll be the first to advocate that vision is the utmost important thing and the one thing you must keep in mind when you start your creative process. But you have to get to the starting point first and call me lazy, I need the inputs for fuel. If not, I end up running on empty, drifting without a purpose in all and no directions simultaneously.
Through the inputs I have fueled and found a great new project and purpose. I wish to try working as a photographer on humanitarian projects for NGOs. I am applying for the NGO Assignment Fellowship grant at Focus For Humanity. I probably won’t win having no previous experience in this field, but must shoot for the stars. I am also looking into very interesting volunteer opportunities at Photophilantropy.org. Like I said, no inputs and my engine sputters, need constant fuel for my engine so in summary:
Inspiration does not kill creativity. Inspiration fuels and ignites creativity.