After years of travel, adventure and jumping form one job to another I recently took on a position as a “Gallery Protection Officer” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. As someone used to challenge and excitement this job (which consisted of standing around and telling people not to touch things) quickly began to bore me and I began to question all of my life choices leading up to this point.
Pryor to this I had tried to become a professional photographer and journalist with some minor level of success. I ultimately decided that even though I liked this line of work there was not enough personal income or stability in the field to pursue this route forever. This realization led me to the job at the National Art Gallery. As noted above this path also led to disappointment, at least innately.
Almost as soon as I started to work at the gallery and spend time around the public I began to notice some strange trends. The one that stuck out to me most of all was how often people took snapshots of works of art. Be they from 4 inches or 10 feet away, low angle or carefully framed, selfie or snapshot. People love to take photos before dashing off to another gallery. I also notices the these people were so engaged in taking theses pictures that they often failed to notice me standing in there shadow. As a photographer skilled in many aspects in the art form it occurred to me that this was a great opportunity for some interesting photos. At first I avoided this corse of action for fear of being caught by my superiors and disciplined or even fired. but after a few weeks of indecision I decided I had little to lose and an opportunity laying before me.
After a few months or smuggling a small Fujifilm x100s on to the floor in my blazer pocket. I amassed a large collection of candid photos I call “pictures of people taking pictures or pictures.” I know these photos might not be the best technical examples of photography nor are they the the most unique concept in the world. Regardless I think they are an interesting commentary on modern life and the absurdity of the art world.
Most important to me is the standard I set for myself. this project had no budget and due to work and taking classes online, I had limited time out of work. Most people would simply give up there and go on with their lives. I however changed my mind set and took a job most would find boring or even call a “dead end” or “waste of time” and made it work for me. From this situation that most would find unfavorable especially to a longterm photography project, I was able to find inspiration and create a project like nothing else I have ever done before. I was very happy when some of the photos were featured in a post on one of my favorite photo/camera blogs Japan Camera Hunter.
From some combination of the job, the photos and the people I worked with I finally made the decision to apply for a Masters in Fine Arts Program. The three of the photos featured in this post were included in my Portfolio. The results are not in yet, but fingers crossed.
I think there is a lesson to be learned by everyone who reads this, if you have dreams and aspirations don’t let anything get in your way. When a situation is not to your liking and life events are out of your hands change your attitude adjust your point of view, don’t beat yourself up for past mistakes and most off all don’t blame the world for a lack of opportunity. Opportunity and inspiration are not thing that fall into your lap, they require an active mind that is engaged, they require long hours of work and patience to see you through this toil. They require risk and sacrifice and a willing ness to accept any consequences that may arise.