If you are going to create something, you’ve got to imagine it first. It’s the spiritual creation that must precede physical creation. Imagination is the blueprint.
Imagination is a strange thing. Shoot For Love got me thinking about my relationship with imagination…
A few nights ago, I was shooting stand up comic Steve Soelberg for his press kit photos. In the middle of our shoot, his phone rings. He’s being asked to do a show in Seattle with Kevin Nealon (from Saturday Night Live) this weekend.He’s already booked in Nashville, and has to decline. As some of you may know, I’ve started doing stand up comedy this year. I’m the noob of noobs; only 9 months into it as of the time of publication. And yet – I have a comedian friend that told Kevin Nealon “No.” That’s crazy. I never would have imagined that 9 clumsy months into this process, I’d be associating with people that are this well connected.
Recently, I found myself at a party rubbing shoulders with some of the top photographers and most beautiful models in the state. I relaxed into a leather sofa, cold beer in hand, a comfortable, thought provoking buzz resonating my brain. Laughing, drinking, smoking, undressing, flirting, joking… by incomparable company. I feel out of place, and yet welcomed on arrival. Most of these beautiful people are in their early 20’s. I’m 36. They are closer in age to my daughters than I am to some of them. I contemplate how I was spending my evenings when I was their age: on the edge of sanity, rocking my baby girl to sleep, feeding her a bottle at 2am, wondering how I’d stay awake in statistics class that morning at 7:30 am, stressing out about the politics of my middle management job, struggling to reconcile myself to the long, dark, lightness tunnel that was my failing marriage. If someone would have told me that several years later, my baby girl would have her own popular YouTube Channel and that I’d be living in a different city having these fine people as my friends & neighbors… I would never have believed it. This reality was far removed from my imagination, because I didn’t feel like I deserved to live such a cool life.
One of my favorite bands growing up was the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (D.R.I.). I worshiped them as a young teenager. I never would have imagined that in the fall of my 36th year, I would get paid to photograph their concert at a venue just 1 block from my own photo studio. (see the photos here).
Imagination was absent from my past, and yet, somehow I’ve managed to arrive in circumstances that I’m deeply grateful for.
While at the aforementioned party, I made my way into a bathroom and pissed away some of the evening’s beer intake. I gazed into the exposed brick wall. These bricks have been in this very same spot for over a hundred years. How many hopes and dreams have they helped to house? I thought about my own hopes and dreams. I tried to imagine them. Even 2 years ago, I would have a hard time wrapping my brain around my current reality, and I’m ashamed to admit, my current reality is not the product of fastidious planning and conscious intention. Let’s say I just keep drifting… what will I be doing 2 years from NOW, that will cause the same degree of disbelief? And what if I could harness my power of imagination… you know, harness might be the wrong word. What if I could truly set it free? What if I could allow my mind’s eye to conjure a reality in which I live in a major metropolitan area… in which I have friends that are famous actors and rock stars and models… in which my clients are companies everyone has heard of … in which my work is regularly published and seen by large portions of the population? Why not?
THAT is where the wall is. This brick wall became a mirror. My own failure to deliberately imagine outcomes, and fully believe in them, is the wall that I’ll run up against.
Shoot for love. That phrase is not just a suggestion to take pictures of things you like… it’s a call to raise one’s sights to something higher. It’s a call to set one’s imagination free and then put actual work into the the big, crazy dreams that show up in your mind and in your heart. It’s a call to honor your highest self by allowing yourself to be something truly extraordinary.