I AM UNHAPPY.
(and I'm making a photo every day because of it)
Okay. Don’t get me wrong. I AM totally happy. My fiancée just moved the U.S. from Australia, we’re getting married in 3 weeks, I’m healthy, I’m content with my income, and I’m surrounded by people I love. I get to travel the world for work, I set my own hours, I get to meet amazing people and work with incredible companies and artists, and I get to have freedom in so many areas of my life. In all the areas of my life that many people, myself included, would deem the most important, I am very, very happy and very successful.
I’m just not happy in the one area that I WANT to be.
I am not happy with who I am as a creator.
So, let’s rewind. I started my journey with photography nearly 6 years ago in my parent’s house, 17 years old and procrastinating on an English essay by shooting a photo of myself holding a book in front of my face, wearing sunglasses, indoors, in the late evening.
This photo became the starting sign post for the rest of my career, until today, this very day, as I sit here, typing this blog, knowing that if there was even just ONE thing I learned from shooting a photo every day for a year, it is that all good things always follow positive forward motion, action, and consistency.
That single photo I shot when I was 17 turned into 365 consecutive photos for the next year. It turned into a career and a social following that continues to grow positively, although sometimes slowly. That single photo turned into me meeting my almost-wife, who lived in Australia until three days ago, who I’m marrying in 3 weeks. It turned into a feeling of importance about myself, a reputation. It turned into my desire to be a leader, to start a business, to educate others about art and passion and creativity.
"In the simplest form I could describe, that single photo turned into one thing: success."
And that success, while great in so many ways, is exactly what has become my single biggest problem in the last 3 years. After my project, shooting a photo every day for a year, I became negligent to my passion. In my subconscious mind, I’d achieved exactly what I set out to do: become a better photographer and grow a social following. Why must my passion continue to grow beyond this? I didn’t see this on the surface, but my actions over the next few years showed that this was exactly how I felt.
"In my success, I have become fearful, and I have become lazy."
In my success, I have become fearful, and I have become lazy. And because of this, I have slowly lost my own vision, my own purpose, my own relevance, and my desire to create anything that means something to me.
I have cared more about theory, reading, and planning than I have about action, motion, and consistency.
I always thought that there could be so much more to photography than simply capturing an image, and that’s why I started to create art with my camera. Eventually, creating art became… easy. Telling stories became fluid. Achieving reactions became simple. Growing a social following became a science.
Art became a systematic, pragmatic, simple, 2-step process, and I haven’t created a piece I am happy with in over a year. Shoot and edit. Simple. Easy. And lacking any substance.
I convinced myself that I didn’t need heart, but only a formula to create something that people cared about viewing. Where I am at and how I feel now as I write this blog entry couldn’t tell me that I have been further from the truth in a long, long time.
In short, I have stopped challenging myself to do anything at all that I care about. I have lost that passion that I first held so strongly when I began taking photos, and all that’s left is a small, smoldering, kindling in its wake.
I have told myself I could never create at the level I used to when I was young, when it was just school and a part time job and living at home.
The only thing I have done with consistency in the last two years as a creator is telling myself that I will shoot that photo tomorrow, that I will write that blog post next month when I’m not so busy, that I’ll make that video next year, that I’ll do anything I can to make my life easier by setting my true nature as a creator aside for another day, month, year.
And yet, as I sit here and watch all of my colleagues continue to push out amazing content, as I watch content creators I admire so much continue to grow in their creativity, I know that I can do so much more...
" I know that I can do so much more... And I just don’t. That’s my problem."
And I just don’t. That’s my problem.
I’ve been stagnant in creation for nearly two years. It’s not that I haven’t achieved anything in the last two years… it’s just that I haven’t achieved what I have wanted to - what I feel like matters most.
In the last 2 years, I have:
- Started a commercial photography agency
- Created and licensed imagery for books and magazines around the world
- Developed and launched an online Photoshop course
- Taught photography in 10 countries around the world
- Inspired thousands of photographers online and in-person
- Fallen in love with the woman of my dreams
- Got engaged to that woman
- Made a second home and family and friend group in Australia
- Lived for two years in my favorite city in the world
- Made friends around the world
My life has NOT been bad, and I have been VERY blessed to live the life that I have until this point and I am insanely thankful, and quite honestly, stunned at the opportunities that have come my way, due in large part to that first year of actively creating content every day. I spend each morning thinking about how grateful I am for all the amazing people, opportunities, and things in my life. However, in the same two years, I HAVE NOT:
- Created any consistent art, videos, or blogs
And because of this, I am unhappy.
I know that if there is anything that truly makes me happy, it is to constantly be creating something new. Today, as I was driving, I came to the realization that I just want to do really good things for the world, and I haven’t been doing as much as I can to make that happen. I don’t want to spend my entire life just working to get money to spend money so that I will have to make more money by working so that I can spend that money. You get the idea.
I want the actions of my life to be of true value to others on this planet. I want to see hearts come alive, passions ignited, change made in a positive direction through the things that I do.
What does that look like for me? I have no idea. And that’s been the problem: not knowing what my future looks like has been the single biggest inhibitor for me to actually do ANYTHING to get me closer to that goal.
I’ve always said that I want to change the world - to do something good for it. It’s not that my goal is any one thing specific except for that, and because I haven’t had a project or avenue to express that, I have become stagnant, fearful, and lazy of creating anything in order TO express that.
My Solution: If you’re still here, if you’re still reading, this is my solution to my own self-created problem: I am going to create and post one new piece of content every single day for as long as I need to until I find my footing again, develop a project that I am happy with, and find an avenue to express my desire to see a better planet. I am going to live and breathe visual content every day for the next year, 2 years, 5 years... however long I need to.
This is my commitment to creating photos, videos, blog posts, and more... that make me happy. That share my vision for a better world. That bring people together. But most importantly, this is my commitment to create a new, original, creative image every single day and post that image every single day for as long as I need to.
"This isn't a 365 project, but rather a change in the way I live my life and create content as a content creator. This is an entire shift of who I am."
I watched Casey Neistat sign off of his daily vlog this afternoon, and that’s where this is coming from. I’m here to get back to that place of fire and passion for what I believe in, but the only way to do it is by taking the first step.
I will be uploading a new photo and a new blog every day for as long as is necessary.
Here we go.
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I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.