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I began my journey in photography nearly 20 years ago as a thought experiment that seemed almost impossible to me at the time: can I make a living as a landscape photographer, and if so, am I crazy enough to try? The idea seemed unimaginable, yet, there I was, not just imagining it, but actually considering it. Looking back, the question that kept me imagining was “what if?” and no matter how hard I tried to rid myself of my delusion, I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities, faint as they were.

  • What if I was making a mistake? 
  • What if I was missing an opportunity? 
  • What if it doesn’t work?
  • What if I gave it my best effort? 

Just to be clear, I didn’t come up with this idea just sitting around thinking about what my dream career would be. I had already spent the previous 15 years as a musician and music producer, so I was comfortable with the artistic career path. Perhaps calling it ‘comfortable’ is an exaggeration-I was experienced dealing with all of the fears and challenges that come with being an artist, both self-imposed and societal. That never really gets comfortable, but you do learn to live with it and accept it as part of the process. 

Yet somehow I had managed to persevere, and so I used that as fuel to take that next big leap into the unknown and exciting world of landscape photography. The long and very bumpy road that followed is something I hope to share in the future, but my goal now is to share another thought experiment I had almost eight years ago, which again started with “what if?“

This wasn’t a career change but rather a personal challenge that I wanted to explore, I felt I needed to explore. It aligned with my passion for self-expression and it would give me greater insights into the things I love sharing and helping others with. I’m also a huge believer (from personal experience) in doing the things that scare you, that make you stay up at night wondering “will this work?” 

I also hoped this new challenge would give me a deeper understanding of things I was already passionate about: creative self-expression, perseverance and commitment, self-belief, gratitude, and most important, finding meaning in creativity. And so almost eight years ago I decided I would learn how to paint. But crucially, not just how to paint, but *how to express the deep emotional connection I have to the natural world.

Eight years later, to say that it has deeply broadened my approach to photography, to teaching, to talking about art and what it means to commit to life long pursuit is as they say, a massive understatement. I also can’t count the number of times I wanted to quit and throw every last painting out the window or in the garbage. *And yes, I’ve thrown many away.

This is not about why you should learn how to paint. This is about what you learn about yourself when you commit to something that seems impossible, at any age. It’s about exploring self-doubt and lack of confidence, fear and frustration. It’s also about the joy of discovering you are capable of more than you thought possible, simply by deciding that the process is what matters most. 

Quitting isn’t an option because succeeding isn’t the goal. The goal is “can I learn something everyday that moves me in a positive direction?” 

Stated another way, can you create and then sustain daily inertia in your creative growth? Can you grow by just 1% every day? Now just imagine the compounding effect after one year… 

Whether in art or life, it’s the ‘what ifs’ that propel us forward, pushing us to discover more than we thought possible.

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