By the time you read this, I’ll be out the door, cameras in hand, heading for a very special location.
And I’ll take pictures at that location. Day and night. Weekday and weekend. Film and digital. Standard and experimental.
I’m not going to post the pictures online … at least not yet. Not until the project is complete.
Trust me. This is important.
Let me explain why.
Many times, a photographer will participate in a “photo a day” or “photo a week” challenge, so that at the end of the year the photographer will achieve 52 good images or – maybe – 365 good images. It’s an opportunity for a photographer to hone their craft, to build their confidence and their skills.
For me … it’s an opportunity to repair my soul.
For those of you who have read my blog for any reasonable amount of time, you know that I have survived countless forms of abuse. Even at age 52, I still feel some of the wounds and aches from moments long past. All it takes is a song, a smell, a day, and I remember that achy, crumby feel that oozes over my soul like a sand-and-motor-oil cocktail.
That’s why this project will hopefully help me heal.
So where am I right now? What am I photographing? Am I in the Adirondacks? Am I in New England? Am I in New York City? Am I in New Jersey or New Brunswick or New Mexico…
I’m somewhere. I’m somewhere safe. I’m not doing stupid stuff, such as hanging off the Helderberg Escarpment by my toenails.
But what I am doing is taking all my cameras and all my film and all my photography skills… and building something from it.
Friends and blog readers, you have to believe me. I’m doing this for all the right reasons. I can’t keep holding on to all the wounds and all the anger and all the pain that everyone has thrown at me, the pain that they expect to stick to me like mud on a wall.
I’m tired of battling these memories. I’m tired of feeling like everything I’ve ever done in my life has either been a mistake, an error, a failure or a joke.
I want that happiness. I want that joy and wonder and excitement that everybody else in the whole wide world receives. I want that, and I’m tired of being told I don’t deserve it. No one should ever be made to feel that they’re unaccepted because of their race, gender, beliefs, orientation, abilities or culture. And most of all, no one should ever be made to feel that they’re unaccepted because of an arbitrary choice.
I’ve done these year-long projects before. Back in 2010, I threw myself into shooting Kodachrome film in the last year that anyone could develop it as a color product. And I chronicled all my efforts – the successes and the failures – here in the blog.
So if I can do this in 2010… certainly I can do this in 2016.
And you’ll ask me, “Chuck, this sounds extremely powerful and moving, can I be part of this? Can I join you on this journey?”
To that I would say, “we all have these journeys in our lives. We all have to take a step and make our lives better. We have to get away from the anger. It’s not easy. It never is. My way might not be your way. Your way may not be my way. But no matter what, we have the way.”
And you’ll ask me, “Chuck, could you at least post some pictures along the way? Maybe on Facebook or Flickr or – oh, I don’t know – maybe this blog?”
I can post pictures. I’ll post them all the time. But I won’t post any pictures right now of this year-long project – not until the project is over. Trust me. You’ll understand why I’m doing this when I’m done. I promise.
Trust me, this is tough. Tougher than anybody could ever imagine. I’m not just driving 300 miles somewhere to take a photo. I’m going deep into my soul and finding a way, whatever way possible, to take all my tragedies and turn them into something tangible and appreciative.
This I must achieve. For if I don’t do this, then everything I’ve built up to this point means absolutely nothing.
Please bear with me on this. If I seem distant, if I seem preoccupied with everything, if I feel like I’m struggling or confused or emotionally pulverized…
It’s not against you. I’ve appreciated all your support through my darkest days these past six years, and I appreciate all your support today and tomorrow and the next day and the next.
And when this is done… if I can get to the finish line and make something amazing and special and wonderful through all this…
Then certainly my efforts will not be in vain.
So if you see on my Facebook page that I’m ‘Goin’ fishin’,” it’s not because I’ve suddenly developed a taste for fresh trout.
I’m going somewhere to cast my soul upon the waters.
And hoping that whatever pains I still carry will sink to the bottom, and whatever still survives will float to the top.
So I’m goin’ fishin’ today.
And I brought plenty of 35mm bait.