Mo Blog

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Its been an empty few weeks for this poor blog, discarded in favour of bigger fish. While everything is going swimmingly over at sitters, and a project from nothing is turning into a project with a lot. Running a separate blog, one with a defined agenda , has shone a light back on to what started this site in the first place. And returning to it today, trying to make the clothes fit and power shower you with my recent work and projects, it is just not right. This little internet space is not a place of promotion (not successfully anyway) or an encompassing gallery or shop of any kind, as much as i wish it was. Its a place i come to talk, and after a year and a little bit, i feel comfortable saying that. Because i don't talk many other places.

I took the picture above walking about one day. I took it because i thought it wasn't enough to just see it and i kept it somewhere prominent because i knew i would see it later. That is a peculiar foresight that i don't normally enjoy. Now the posters are gone, and i think about the foresight of the person who pasted them up. With their dampened, limp corners. The aged and rebellious glue that kept its sodden message in place. I think of what was probably a very spontaneous evening. A quick design thrown together, some old popular slogan fired up, slap, dash: message. But i never saw another of the same poster. No campaign, no revolution. Just some posters decomposing in a rank corner of edinburgh. But the message.

I have had over half a year to sit on the message. And i have watched the ravages of the subject in question on my own work. I have seen the same cardinal sin rear up and destabilise and frustrate my friends and colleagues. And i know it now too. Everywhere, in every profession, everyone encounters and suffers the same feeling. Inferiority. Where good is not enough, and best is for someone else. And the inevitable days when your work is done, and you sit back and examine your accomplishments only to tighten your lips and shake your head.

Envy is many things, a sin the least of all. It is actually the product of something else entirely. Something very hard. An inescapable thing with no prescription and no real measurements.Something that comes as standard in all of us. This is doubt. Some people would say that the best cure for doubt is hard work. But that is a prevention, and eventually your own hard work comes under question and your supports struggle to take the weight of self judgement. Its really hard to see someone caught up in doubt, and in a creative industry it is rife. A while ago i cut back on the traffic of other photographer's work coming into my brain. Videos, portfolios, websites, galleries, slimmed it all down. The reason, because i was in too vulnerable a learning stage and i could literally watch the knots in my stomach forming as i browsed the images of the masters, the pioneers of the doubt. My own voice with a camera was being drowned out. Studying the best work is the start of creating the best work, but is is also the first point of comparison. And try as you might, you cannot take comparison out of achievement, and where there is achievement there is failure. I've watched first hand at people giving up because someone else had done more, done it faster, done it younger or just had a bigger mouth from the off. It sounds surreal when you stand back, Not doing what you want because someone, somewhere is doing something too. But it is the reality. Being creative for a living is hard enough without paralysis of doubting what we haven't done yet.

Today i felt a little of this, at an impasse between a lot of different pressures that i couldn't get a handle on any one thing. I was charging through my hard-drives when i found the most amazing thing, something i never knew existed. Not a file or an image, It was a photograph. One i took an indefinable amount of time ago. Something to me so beautiful i knew just seeing it every day wasn't enough. I forgot all about photography and creativity and thanked myself for doing what comes naturally, just being an old fashioned human. A lifetime of worthless things that are priceless to us alone. Little inscrutable memories and actions from your own life, things so personal they are immune to comparison. Fundamental and non comparable. These are part of the building blocks and raw materials of the other lives we compare ourselves to. People made of the same non transferable stuff.

I thought of my own deep treasure trove. Things like love and family and home and childhood and good craic, but in my mind and the mind of everyone else these notions crystallise into real, precious trinkets and memories. And i fantasised at the day i would be able to add "my trust in myself" to the pot and, like a phantom in slumber, the doubt just went away.