Do the Work in Guatemala


Many days in Antigua went somewhat like this: Our maid – with the great name Lucky – cooked breakfast and shouted “Raymundo, Flemming, desayunooooo!” at me and fellow house-mate Raymond, in our small B&B. We’d stumble out to coffee and a freshly cooked great breakfast. We would wolf down coffee and food trying to warm up in the cold mornings of otherwise warm Antigua. Then I would have Spanish one-on-one lessons with my great teacher Aracely and I would do Spanish homework for hours after that. In the afternoon, the wandering begins. 4-5 hours of restless and relentless walking in the backstreets and markets of Antigua with my camera, always looking, searching, sometimes seeing and occasionally making a picture.

Random street photography is not something I do with ease, I perform much better when there is an actual event or something I can focus on and dig into. Random street shooting in Guatemala also quite comically means I have to kneel for every shot as I’m two feet taller than the average Guatemalteco. But it did not matter. The point was making images every day. Do The Work. Have fun and just shoot, never worry about any outcome or any use of the images.

Every day was dedicated to 12-14 hours of Do the Work. Work on mastering Spanish. Work on Photography. Make stuff, make images everyday and do it relentlessly and only concentrate on the work. No social media, no blogging, no developing images, solely shooting and working. I was going through a very dark period of depression and self-loathing, so I disconnected from almost everything, buried myself in doing the work. Darkness for me lends itself to more intimate work beeing very much in need of an outlet. Burdened with an overload of self-discipline I did at some point wear myself out completely and became ill, not helped by very cold nights. Lesson learned and then instantly mostly forgotten, which is my way of life it seems. But recharging is quite possibly necessary to Do The Work. And breaking some eggs, making lots of mistakes.

Viewed as a small body of work I am reasonably happy with the outcome. 15-20 images that are good keepers to add to my nomad long-term project. The process itself, do the work, is the most important part, not the end result. If I view the images of the unfinished project every day as I shoot I cannot see the whole and I have found it stops me from working.

So I just do the work.

Shoot and dance and perform magic like no one is watching.

6 Comments on “Do the Work in Guatemala”

  1. Wish I had a smidgen of your discipline. As it is, I have the opposite problem: all attempts to enforce some kind of structure in my modus operandi results in utter distraction and chaos. Good on you!

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