Catherine reflects on life, current affairs and photography.
I’ve never considered myself a hoarder but when it comes to photography, I may need to re-evaluate this self-perception. I still have my first camera along with my first negatives and prints from my very first school assignments and the beginning of my photography career.
I always wonder what other photographers do with their old work such as negatives from the beginning of their career. How long should I really keep this stuff? Sometimes you just don’t feel very proud of old photographs. Of course I have learned a lot since taking my first images, and it is nice to track my improvement, but I really just dislike some of my earliest work. At the same time though, I just don’t have the heart to throw the negatives out. I mean, at one point I was really proud of these images!
My internal debate has manifested itself in an excessive pile of boxes holding old work. I know I need to do something but I just can’t decide! So, help me clear my conscience. Do you throw all your old stuff away?
I recently read my blog and realized that while its chalk full of accomplishments it doesn’t really say anything about ME but rather only talks about what I do. In fact with the exception of a few photographic highlights (thanks to my clients!) it is pretty boring. It almost reads like a visual resume.
As a perfectionist, I have only wanted to share my “perfect” side. A laundry list of my accomplishments and basically a self-promoting bore, my blog lacks substance, it lacks personality, it lacks me.
Things are going to change. No more self-gloating manuscript I am ready to share not just my work and accomplishments, but also what makes me tick, my strengths, my weaknesses, and well anything relevant to my career and life.
“The only limitations in life are those we place onourselves”
When I was in high school, I took a photography class. I wasrecognized in the class and honored with my own display during open house! Duringthis open house I was proudly hanging around my photographs and overheard my teacher saythat I was talented, but would never make it as a pro. Hearing that sparked somethingin me that made me want to succeed. Despite the discouraging comment from a teacher I looked up too, I chose not to let someone else’sopinion of me determine my future.
Since high school, there have been many people that feel I don’t have what it takes to make it. The limitations they see in me are limited to their beliefs. The only true limitations are those that I choose to inflict upon myself.
Before I went to Appalachia, I knew it was a land ravaged by the coal mining industry and rife with poverty. When I got there, I was struck by how this area of the United States seemed like an entirely different country. The people told me their stories of struggle and hardship, and how they survive in such an unwelcoming environment. According to the above Appalachian woman, the way to make a living is “To sell things you can’t buy at WalMart.”
A few years ago I received a Julia Dean scholarship that launched my adventures in Appalachia. Once there, I rented a Subaru and drove around, documenting everyday life. The images I captured show the lives of people who, quite honestly, seemed to be victims of natural resource industry. I could see how logging and mining stripped the land, how floods consumed towns, and how people eke out a living in this mountainous setting. Poverty is everywhere. Decaying equipment and cars are scattered about, left to rot with the people the industries have forgotten.
What I found fascinating were the huge economic shifts that occurred because of coal mining and logging. Appalachia was once a place for millionaires. In fact, the little town of Bramwell, West Virginia, once had the most millionaires per capita. People lived in mansions and enjoyed a life of luxury. Fast forward 100 years, and most coal mining companies are gone. People live in overcrowded houses. Children play in cars that haven’t run for years. But most surprising of all is that this landscape is only a few hours’ drive from several of our country’s major metropolitan areas.
I’m so thankful for the people of Appalachia who let me into their lives. Without their trust and support, I wouldn’t have been able to showcase such an unseen glimpse of American life.
“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.”-Denis Waitley
To me, this quote reflects a belief that as artists and as people we are much greater than we can even imagine ourselves to be. Our capabilities are so much greater than we give ourselves credit for. Doubt puts restrictions on the beauty that we are supposed to be giving to the world. For example, I’ve met people who have the “whole package.” They are full of talent, potential and wonderful gifts; but they are holding themselves back.
When you don’t recognize your true abilities, you aren’t able to shine. If you have the urge to do something, then you are meant to do it. If you have the urge, you CAN do it. I believe you wouldn’t have that urge if you didn’t have what it takes to achieve that dream. Fear is the only thing holding us back.