What Art Taught Me: Passion
Originally written on: December 31st 2013
Previously, when someone used the word “passionate” to describe themselves, I always felt a bit uneasy. I never knew why for sure, but I suspect that it is because I felt that on some level word was sacred. Using that word would be akin to calling yourself a genius or a prodigy. To me, they walked hand in hand.
Despite loving the arts my whole life, I could never bring myself to say that word. I loved everything I did and immersed myself in it all. But to me, it wasn’t being passionate, it was being natural.
I do think that society has used that word so much that the meaning has been lost, so now most of us are left with a bad impression or no impression at all when it’s used. I think it’s a pity, because when you really look at the word, you realise it holds so much meaning and depth that is usually taken for granted.
But I didn’t have to look through a dictionary definition to understand it.
For the most part, I found it through the times I was taking photos. It was a slow process, though.The first time I caught a glimpse at it was when I took my first intended conceptual photo. It was there, my feeling was being reflected in my model and I felt it for a moment. But it was only for an instant and it passed by me.
Then after being hurt by someone I cared about, I found it again through heartbreak. It came to me and I saw how I was feeling as a picture. I felt it, and nearly breathed it. But not in the way that Hollywood depicts it, but the way you see it in a beautiful dream. After you wake up, all you want to do is return to all those heavenly images that were dancing before your closed eyes. That’s how it is for me. I feel in images.
I’m lucky enough to kind of understand passion. I don’t have a very tight grasp on it at all, but I do think it can be in all of us. My question is, is it wrong to say you’re passionate when you don’t know how or why you are? Is passion something we can have? Does it reside in us innately? A free gift to each person as we go through this funny little thing called life? I don’t know. I don’t hold all the answers. But I do hold a few questions. And maybe if we all ask loud enough in one big booming voice we will find an answer ringing back to us.
That is what I hope to do though art. To find understanding about the life that surrounds me. Something inside me wonders that if I take all the influences, good and bad, and then echo back with art, maybe I will be able to see it more clearly.
In the end, looking back at my body of work and the experiences I had with each one , I do think I can be passionate. But not all the time. Sometimes I can shut it out, but it keeps knocking until I open up to it again. It is very understanding.
I found passion in many places during all of my photo shoots. I’d like to share a few with you.
In To Cut Your Ties I found passion in the spur of a moment and the beautiful short hair of the model.
In Wait I found it in the fact that my model had been a ballerina as a child, and I saw it in the graceful placement of her arms, even though it had probably been years since she danced.
In It Can’t Protect You, I found it in changing my clothes on a public road in front of a friend in the rain, just because I needed the shot.
In A Bleeding Heart, I found it in hardly wearing anything at all, nearly slipping on the rocks and dipping into a cold pool of water that I momentarily shared with spiders and water-bugs.
In Running From Yourself, I found it in a field. I walked about two hours there and back, with all equipment over my shoulder. I was alone, and at the end of the photo-shoot I found myself running through the field and jumping, yet I didn’t know why. I was just happy. Even though no one was there to see it.
In Your Promises, I found it in my model, who was an embodiment of passion herself. To the way her mouth moved and to the way she clutched the stems of the flowers. I wished I could be like her.
So many…so many. There quiet experiences lead me to a place inside myself that I wouldn’t have been able to discover otherwise.
Hopefully one day I will understand passion better. But not to use it as a tool to explain how much better I am than someone else, as if passion is only reserved for an elite few. No, that isn’t why it’s here. It is meant to fuel us to make more of itself. For what purpose? I still have yet to know. Maybe one of you have the answer