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I was going to take the leap, but thank you for pushing me off the edge- I needed reason to scream.

bodega <3

“Starting today I promise to never settle for second best, or because it might be the most practical choice for my life. I promise to go after what I want and never give up until I’ve gotten it, whatever “it” is. I promise to live my life to its fullest potential…”

Almost a year ago to date I wrote out a personal manifesto, these are the first two lines. When I wrote these words I thought at the time that I was mostly talking about my love life and choice in friends, with my “career” in there too but only in the most general and far away of terms and “being happy with what I do.” I never in a million years thought that I would go from being pumped about trying to finish college and getting started on my dive into photography professionally that it would lead me to this point in my life. And as I sit and write and actually think about what is going to happen over the next 11 months or so the anxiety and excitement is reaching levels only wine can calm. To explain the severity and depth of the situation I have to give you a couple backstories.

When I took my first photo class in high school our teacher Mr Pic (yes that was his real name, short for Pickering) was constantly talking about art schools and more specifically  Art Center College of Design. Art Center is the most competitive and top rated art schools in the country and consistently ranks on every list as one of the best schools out there for design related careers. I never even fathomed dreaming about going to Art Center, I had my dream sights set on Brooks Institute which was cheaper and easier and which has since lost its prestige as a top art school. But here I am, browsing the Art Center admission requirements…

I’ve never been a dedicated student, my 8th grade algebra teacher could tell you that, he used to call my mom constantly frustrated that I would get A’s and B’s on my tests yet fail the homework. I wouldn’t say I’m brilliant, but I’m pretty fucking intelligent and school is generally a bore for me unless I’m being challenged to do my best and only my best work only. Its exhausting though and I generally don’t have the mental stamina to do well in subjects that bore the crap out of me. Put me in a darkroom and give me a deadline though and I will come out with my best work possible after many long hours with no food, breaks, or sitting. Its my passion. Back to my point. Recently the State of California has imposed a new course repeat rule which means you cannot attempt (and withdrawls are counted, AND its retroactive) a class more than 3 times. Unfortunately for me my procrastination due to brilliance, I now do not qualify to repeat necessary classes that I’ve attempted (which offer no alternative) more than 3 times over the millions of years I’ve been at Sac City College. Basically I’m shit out of luck, and trust me, I’ve pushed it.

To be quite honest though, last year after I had to retest for all of my placement tests (math and english because there is an expiration date and I’m like the oldest community college procrastinator on earth) I had come to terms with the fact that if I placed lower than before that it would basically spell the end for me and upper education. And then I started toying with the idea of going to art school as a “back up.” I figured, hey I know its not History, but I do love photography and at least I’d be doing something I truly love doing, right? When I got back my assessment scores and they were just as good as always, no remedial classes necessary, I was actually disappointed inside. Now I knew I HAD TO finish college like the rest of everyone else. Enter new course repeat rules.

Now, here is something FINALLY forcing me to apply myself to something I love. To follow my dreams. To not settle for second best, even though it might not be the most practical choice. To live my life to the fullest potential and pursue everything I want out of life instead of choosing the desk job, house and kids. The thought of dropping 140k on an art school bachelor degree is TERRIFYING to me, its just so unconventional. But at the same time its exciting. I’m one of those people who sometimes needs to be pushed into something because I’m too scared to fail, but once I try and see myself succeeding its really hard to stop me.

So here I go. I’m enrolling in a portfolio development photo class this coming semester at Sac City (might as well suck that BOG fee waiver dry while I can, right?), to help get my portfolio ready for submission for Spring 2013 with an October 2012 deadline…

This is probably the biggest risk I’ll ever take in my life.
This risk is bigger than allowing myself to fall in love.
This risk is bigger than flying across an ocean by myself.
Bigger than walking down that dark alley by myself the other day when parking was scarce.
More dangerous than driving fast on a wet freeway.
Scarier and more intimidating  than the trip to South East Asia I’m trying to plan.
More anxiety-inducing than the thought of squeezing a child out of my body one day.
THIS RISK is the risk to end all risks in my mind.
If I can do this, FUCK I can do ANYTHING.

This is one of those life changing pivotal moments that when all is said and done… I’m going to look back one day and say to my kids…

“THIS is the moment that changed the entire course of my life.
THIS is when it happened.”

I could really use a shot right now. ;)

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Ansel Adams rollin' deep into the backcountry, I like his style- standing on top of his car.

Lately I’ve been noticing myself having dreams about cameras.  Specifically toy cameras. Toy cameras are essentially cheap(ish) plastic cameras that are meant for casual photography, lately they’ve been seeing a resurgence in their popularity because of the unintentional effect they create on photos, light streaks, double exposures and what have you.  They’ve even become extremely mainstream in the hipster community thanks to Urban Outfitters and the like.

the Holga camera, medium format (120mm film)

But anyway, I’ve been dreaming about these cameras lately which is very odd for me.  Since I first heard about Holga cameras when I was in high school I’ve always wanted to dabble with toy cameras but I never really did it, mostly out of forgetfulness.  Lately I’ve been reading up on some other photoblogs like I Still Shoot Film (really heavy on cross-processing which gives the photos a cool color effect) and this other blog about this relatively unknown street photographer Vivian Maier who has become quite famous posthumously when someone bought all her negatives shot with her TLR (twin lens reflex) on the streets and started developing and posting them.  I think all my late night blog reading has finally caught up to my dreams.

the Instax, spits out credit card sized instant photos

A couple weeks ago I had a dream about the Instax camera.  I was in a photo class with my friends that was being taught by my college photo professor Danita and we were doing experimental photography.  Because of the crappy budget allotted for photography by the school we were given these ancient versions of the modern day Polaroid/Instax cameras.  In my dream they were a cross between a  large format camera (think Ansel Adams and a huge cloth over his head) with a giant flash bulb attached, and the glass plate that normally sits in those large format cameras spat out instant photos, but with all the settings of modern toy cameras.  It was a beast of a thing but surprisingly light in my dream.

the Instax in my dream had a huge old timey flash like this one

Now I’m normally pretty fussy about what I shoot and the exercise of the day was to “capture life” which I felt pretty intimidated about because lets face it I’m a perfectionist and I wanted THE perfect shot.  Time was running out and we were running around campus trying to shoot things so eventually I just gave in and ended up shooting someone jumping on a trampoline who jumped up and did the splits right as I shot it.  When I saw what I had shot I was totally blown away at how much I liked the picture I took on impulse and ended up really liking the Instax in my dream.  I woke up that morning confused but inspired.

a traditional TLR camera, the viewfinder is at the top and usually a large size to allow for shooting near the waist

Last night I didn’t have such a detailed dream as before, but I was playing around with a toy TLR camera and was walking the streets shooting everyone and everything I saw and loving it.  Half the struggle, for me at least, with doing street photography is that its a little intrusive to people if you come up to them or their business with a camera to your face and take their pictures, its much more relaxing to people you shoot if your camera isn’t up in yours and their face.  Enter: the TLR, it allows you to shoot from the waist, giving you the freedom of actually making eye contact and conversing with these street subjects if you dare.

I think my dreams are telling me something. I think they are telling me to be more adventurous in my photo taking and to experiment outside my comfort zone on the things I choose to photograph.  I really want to get the Blackbird toy TLR now, like real bad.  Who knows, this could be the year I go plastic.

the Blackbird Blackbird, Fly (BBF), a toy TLR that uses 35mm film