I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.
~Robert Henri


Autumn leaves closeup

Contours | ©Brad Mangas

Every so often I find myself contemplating the wrong ideas, motivations, and goals. This is nothing new. Looking back over the years and possibly even my life I can recognize these moments. The difference now seems to be I catch myself in the act before a good deal of time has gone by and lost for all eternity.

The wrong ideas I am referring to are those that center around some outside force or distraction. This typically begins with questioning the what, how, when, and why of the photographic creative process. This seems like a harmless and logical direction for an artist and creation motivated person to pursue. Producing art or going about business. To put it bluntly, this is devastatingly destructive. Just the opposite of what I need to do to feed the inner workings of the process that is responsible for what I chose to do.

No Grey Area

To be more clear, it is not the questions themselves that are destructive but the motivation for asking them. Specifically, the concern of what others need, want or think. It’s hard to put this in a way that does not seem completely off-putting or selfish. Maybe that is the uncomfortable part, the part that others will not understand. But then, it is this concern or more appropriately the lack of concern of others that is the issue here. Yes, that seems cold and heartless if you take it the wrong way. I can only think of explaining this as; If I am anything I must be honest with myself. Only then will I be honest with the world I live in. There is no cruel or heartless intent. It is very difficult to get this across to others. I try but mostly fail. I believe it has always been this way and will forever be a struggle.


The last couple weeks I have gotten caught in a trap. A trap that is not comfortable. Distractions to what feeds my process. And without a doubt centers around outside forces. Most notably, what others think or expect. I have attributed this to the holiday season. The ginormous onslaught of sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy. I have participated in this but now realize I must be very cautious of how and why. My participation has been on the end of the selling. It seems somewhat odd to speak negatively about selling work when that is the only thing that provides monetary support. It is also the “only” thing it provides. No creative support, honestly it stifles the whole creative process. No personal or emotional support, I come out feeling like a sleazy door to door vacuum cleaner salesman. What is the purpose? Only to eat and have a roof over one’s head I guess. That and it is necessary for a life that provides the ability to create. At least the eating part does. The inner workings of this creative life can be as devastating as they are rewarding.

It comes down to this. What is it worth? What is anything that is life altering worth? Most don’t have the desire to face hardships in the pursuit of living more abundantly. You risk failing with each attempt. Most believe failing is a failure. It is not. To not try again after failing will most certainly end in failure. The solution may not be easy but the pursuit will forever be rewarding and the alternative forever final.

The artist never entirely knows — We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark
~Agnes de Mille