Today I will tell you about one time in my life of intense experimentation, what I learned and how this experience transformed me. Living is a process and every process exists only in movement, with flow and exchanges. I say this to remind the importance of which to build a life worth living, you need to act, experimenting, testing and often wiping out half way, laugh at yourself and keep moving.
After I graduated in Production Engineering I started my professional life in the financial market, working with mergers and acquisitions. Money, glamor and the promise of a secure and comfortable future were elements that I bought without much questioning at that time.
Big mistake … I left out important questions like what is my life purpose? What are my passions? My values? My talents? Are them aligned with the activity that I will engage and with the values and purposes of the company or with the community of people with whom I will relate? I received a resounding “no” in life and after two years working in banking I was exhausted. I didn’t recognize myself anymore, I lost my glow, lots of physical suffering, I felt psychologically broken off. I was totally fragmented.
The final straw for me was a photograph. A photograph of the vacation that I did where I couldn’t recognize me. I was sad, shocked actually, to see that image in a faded shadow of who I really am. This shock gave me strength to react, put together a plan and change. I had no idea what I wanted to do but knew I did not want in my life anymore.
I then decided to do the following experiment: travel backpacking for 40 days in wild nature locations where I could strengthen me physically and psychologically, and during this period I would learn something new, from scratch! Location: Bahia, Chapada Diamantina and the island of Boipeda. What to learn: photograph (perhaps a way of thanking the universe ?!)
I sent my father’s old camera to reform, it was a manual one, one of the Pentax Spotmatic. I bought two books that would be my teachers, filters, many movies, I grabbed my backpack, boot and hit the road. It was an amazing experience, of intense life and warm memories. It made me reconnect with my essence, healed me physically and psychologically, I discovered a new passion in photography and realized that the world is generous with those who are curious and sincere in your personal quest.
This intense experience with myself and the photograph as a companion, I took many learnings. Some of them I turned on basics that I use today when I want to become good at some new activity. I believe you can also make good use of them:
1- We develop ourselves when we are productive – Do something, do not expect a divine light illuminate your head and tell you what to do. It does not. Only by doing you begin a process of self-knowledge that can take you to ways you never imagined.
2 – Master the fundamentals – Any new activity that you start has a language, a set of techniques you need to master. There’s no use buying a camera last generation and not knowing what to do with it. Mastering the fundamentals you automate and incorporates the basic elements that will bring you success when performing that activity. But stay tuned! When the activity uses your talents, what you do with ease, and connects with your passion, this step is not heavy nor suffered, quite the contrary you’ll want to dive deep into any opportunity that arises to learn more.
3 – Remember Mr. Miagi – In the movie Karate Kid Mr.. Miagi sent Daniel San paint fences, waxing cars, always using the same motion. Why he did it? Practice. Mr. Miagi knew to incorporate and think no more on technique it takes much practice and discipline. Imagine if you had to remember and strive every day to brush your teeth? You’ve practiced enough as a child and now this activity is already automatically for you. What I said is worth two in the ground here: if you are using your talents and are connected with the activity the pleasure of becoming better and better is the result.
4 – Place more tools in your box – Go behind the teachers, connect with their community of practitioners. The greater the diversity of examples and experiences, richer will be your technique. I love to analyze and copy (yes copy) the work of several photographers. Broadens my gaze, increases my repertoire of techniques and I renew myself in the process. There is always someone somewhere doing something different and innovative. Embrace this new knowledge and make it your own. Over time you will see that this mixture of ingredients and seasonings gives results.
5- See as the ant or the elephant – Exit obvious exit the comfort zone. If you really want to be successful you must explore different paths, seek different perspectives. Pictures of food, and feet because selfies be another posting on Instagram? Seek new angles, dare, use your instinct. That’s when corporate fundamentals begin to give way to the heart, where you get to express their essence in the activity you are doing. See that even master the techniques you will follow the herd, your brain will be too busy to allow your heart to express itself. When you put your brain on auto, there the real fun begins.
6 – Reveal the picture before you take it – You are a melting pot of stories, experiences and feelings. His worldview is unique and how you interpret reality is also unique. I realized I shot the photos before clicking the button. Inside me it is ready, just need to materialize it with the equipment and techniques. Trust it. Use all your luggage and life experiences and express them in their activity. Exceptional results come when you use the technique to express your unique essence. Paul Straub, photographer, said: “For all those actually able to see the photograph taken by you, is the testimony of its existence.” Be unique, be you.
7 – Be present – The master Henri Cartier Bresson said: “The people look and think: When tightening? Now? Now? Now? You see? The emotion goes up and suddenly ready. It’s like an orgasm, have an hour exploding. Or we have right now, or lose … and we can not recover … “Focus energy flow. Being present is to forget that you need to go on the market, or pay a bill shortly. You are there, immersed in the activity, the time for the world around you disappears and is taken over by a huge pleasure to do what you’re doing.
Notice that the first four fundamentals are attached to the objective world outside: the reason, mind, techniques, skills and knowledge. The fundamentals 5 and 6 are related with the subjective inner world: your emotions, heart, the inner eye and its passions. The 7th integrates mind and heart in the present moment, the now. The union of mind and heart in this creates an effect of transformation, creativity and transcendence, is where the magic happens, where we feel connected to our essence and our purpose. I do know, I want to do, I’m doing!
As for me, I joined and I carry with me all the experiences of that time in everything I do, integrate and become more aware of myself. I came to investigate on how to become a professional photographer but for now, I chose to keep that passion as a hobby. Anyway, that was the beginning of a new cycle of life, others came with new challenges and ways and guided me to places I’ve never imagined, as writing this post and creating a social business, Moporã.
I conclude here a Cartier Bresson’s quote: “Photographing is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis”.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/laurawilliams_x