The Beauty of Self-Doubt as a Creative

When you are sitting alone in a dark room—as I often do—contemplating your value and self-worth, wondering if what you say matters, it does. Know that you are not just good, you are more than good. You are great.

Keep creating, and keep working through self-doubt. The world needs your art.

This may sound a bit disturbing to say but I’ve come to learn that in the creative field, as thrilled as you may be with seeing fellow peers succeed and receive accolades, it’s equally gratifying to uncover that they also have their own share of sh*t moments that comes with the package. The difference is that not many people are candid about those roadblocks. Do you have to be? Not really, but you’d be surprise to learn how a little glimpse of vulnerability in others can help boost your own self-esteem.

I struggle with this “self-doubt” a lot with my work and I’ve noticed it happens predominately when I overthink shoots as oppose to accepting that someone’s hire more for a reason and that I shouldn’t pretend to be someone else in order to meet their expectations. What we create matters and although it may not for other people, as long as we’re fulfilling our own creative itch, that’s all that matters and if people are willing to compensate your for it then of course that’s a bonus!

For little more inspiration on this topic, I highly recommend watching this TED Talk by Casey Brown entitled Know Your Worth, and Then Ask for It

Closing Summer with Aimée

I could have very easily just published these photographs I took with Aimée but I at least wanted to give you a bit more context behind it all. In quantifying the amount of times I’ve visited Rockaway Beach this year in New York, which I have to say has always been a rarity, I would say around 9 times. For some friends, I’ve taken the role of unofficial ambassador in view that I’m always raving about how much it’s changed and how worth the long trek out there is.

Aimee had been mentioning throughout the Summer how she’d never been to The Rockaways and how she actually owned a old black dress she’s been meaning to get rid of but before doing so, she brought up how awesome it would be to take a plunge with it in the ocean while taking a few photographs along the way. So that’s exactly what we did!

As for the video portion of our impromptu shoot, it’s a medium I’ve slowly been embracing but still eager to continue experimenting with. In the past, every single video you might have seen me share has been edited with iMovie and yet I knew I would eventually have to graduate from that into a more sophisticated software like Adobe Premiere Pro. In dealing with both photos and video, I’m aware it might push back the turnover rate in which I typically publish anything but I’m really coming to enjoy how the 2 mediums compliment each other and that it’s worth putting in the extra effort to churn out something different.

Nguyen Le on Commercial Success

One of the biggest realizations I’m come to accept as an artist is that regardless of how long you’ve been at the game grinding away, showing up daily with every intention to give your work an even higher rise, is that you can’t compare why you’re not at the same stage every other creative within your social circle is at. Everyone has their turn or do they? That’s the question and a very good one which Nguyen Le addresses in a recent interview when asked about commercial success and the plethora of artist out there trying to make it:

So raw, so scary but so real.

Selena Samuela

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I’ve always been vocal in stating that boxing is the one sport I feel I can follow and watch religiously with minimal interruptions because the majority of fights take place at night long after the kids have already fallen asleep. Once the actual fight comes around, it’s pretty effortless for me to feel entranced in seeing how each boxer strives to find that perfect balance, that mythical perfect place between hitting and not getting hit. This contrast is exactly what makes boxing so amazing to me. The mostly highly skilled boxers are not always necessary the brawlers but instead the technicians who their technical acuity to evaluate their opponent and know when to throw a punch.

Long before any fighter steps foot in the ring, there’s a sh*tload of training that leads up to that very moment which to me is equally as mesmerizing as the actual fight.

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Selena is boxing instructor at Shadowbox in New York, and who I recently had the pleasure to accompany for a little light training around Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

When asking her about why boxing, her reply is one that can’t help agree with 100% because it’s exactly why I admire the sport myself: “Boxing is one of those sports that teaches you about YOU. If you throw yourself into this sport you're going to find out who you really are; not just your athletic ability or what you're physically capable of, it does that too, but boxing will also challenge you mentally and spiritually thus forcing you to truly grow. “

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The Secret Lives of Virgins

For the most part, whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have access to certain people, places or experiences that we immediately take for granted by virtue of have them at our disposable 24/7. You may certainly appreciate every single one of them but it’ll usually take something compelling to happen for you to realize that what you have access to is truly special, particularly when it’s something not many people get to experience. Which begs the statement that regardless of how inconsequential something may seem to you, just know that it may be of value and interest to other people hence the reason for you to share and give us the viewer a tour of your daily narrative.

It’s that same plea to share that’s made me absolutely love Molly Choma’s photo series entitled The Secret Life of Virgins. It captures flight crew member when they’re out of sight of passengers such as when it’s downtime, it’s late or a flight is delayed. In order to “preserve it, not necessarily for the public but with friends and people”, Molly documented these beautiful moments that I’ll forever have present in my mind when I’m onboard a plane.

I’m curious if anything comes to mind for you either from work or anywhere where you have access to something that’s so unique which makes it even more of a reason to document it and share in whatever medium you feel most comfortable practicing.

The Rockaways

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Everything is better when we travel. We develop this inextricable connection with a place, with the people, the culture and you happily transport yourself to that mental state where the recurring question in your head becomes, “what took me so long to come here?” For me, it’s embarrassingly painful to admit that it took for Superstorm Sandy to materialize and wreck havoc in the Rockaways to ultimately realize that this neighborhood which I’ve often neglected visiting has underwent a renaissance of sorts since then.

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Now there's a beautiful 2-mile stretch of boardwalk, with new businesses moving in each summer, and this year alone, because of how beautiful this town is becoming, my family has developed such an affinity with this place that we’ve come to the beach more than 7 times which is a rarity for us. What can I say? We’ve forever been spoiled with crystal clear Caribbean water after having taken so many cruise vacations in the past that New York beaches has rarely ever drawn my attention until now.

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The rise of the Rockaways has also given a huge rise to surf culture. I discovered that the hard-core surfers get to the beach before dawn to hit the waves so that’s when I opted to venture out to capture that side of this neighborhood I had no idea existed until now.

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In the past, the Rockaways has always had this reputation of being relatively poor and a little dangerous. I can’t say that standing is well deserved but what I can say is something that I’m reminded of which Anthony Bourdain said when he visited while filming an episode of Parts Unknown and that is that “the whole world is in Queens, and like the world as a whole, it is constantly changing.”

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A Day in the Life of Sara Sigmundsdottir

I’ve never tried Crossfit before but it’s certainly a fitness regimen that’s been on my list of challenges that I’d more than willing to put my body through. I’m curious to see how my body will react and cope in response to all that constant and varied high intensity movements. It sits right there next to cycling.

Recently I’ve become an avid follower of the sport and that inquisitiveness towards it deepened after having watched the documentary Fittest on Earth. It essentially depicted elite athletes competing in the 2016 Reebok Crossfit Games for 5 grueling days. The nice blend of the documentary and the high volume of Tim Ferris podcast episodes I listen to has turned me on to that obsession of wanting to know what a typical life-in-day looks like for one of these athletes.

In the female category, Sara Sigmundsdottir is among one of my favorite athletes and so it was really riveting to see in this 25min video on how she plans out her day from sun up to sun down. Everything from her meal preps, to her workouts, her goal setting, all while being extremely humble and transparent about her achievements in the sport.

What’s absolutely notable in the video isn’t just that women can be strong, possibly more than men but that it’s something that I feel is more celebrated than before. If you’ve never seen a video of a confident woman demonstrating her mastery, I highly encourage it to do it now because this is the new normal and I’m all for supporting women being depicted as powerful and in charge!

How To Get "Known"

David duChemin:

David’s weighty articles are never the type I can comfortably read without truly having time to myself in some far away corner, where I can recite, in a low voice every single word, so that it sinks it further. This article is no exception. In fact, it’s resonated with me more than I anticipated and not because I’m the type that obsesses over wanting to be “known” for my work but more so because very often than not, we photographers at some stage get easily caught up with always wanting to shoot and be active but not always having a direction or a purpose for it. When you fail to have a purpose, that path that could potentially lead to our work becoming recognized becomes nebulous.

David goes on to say:

I always joke around in saying to others that it took many photographs of sunsets and puppies to ultimately reach a point where I recognized what I enjoyed shooting which I narrowed down to lifestyle, portraits and travel. Anything before that period, I was shooting everything and at that phase, there was no reason for me to have complained about not being “known” when I didn’t know who I was myself.

In the event that you’re unaware as to why you want to be “known” other than just saying that you do, then perhaps you might want to consider answering these questions to yourself that David put out there for people to consider: