I have always had a weak spot for movies about underdogs. Regular, or even less than regular Joes or Janes who have undertaken some herculean task that seems way beyond their skill set and any reasonable expectation that they would succeed. When the moment of triumph arrives there are tears streaming down my cheeks in abundance. I love those stories.
When I started on this journey a little over two years ago, I had no good reason to believe that what I wanted to achieve was even remotely possible. But I attended a workshop, got a map to the territory, and determined that I must embark. Life is short and I can be pretty sure there is more of it behind me than lies ahead. I had one of those now or never moments.
I remember my first Mount Everest is Calling blog post. I announced to the world that I was going to do this and made it clear that I understood the odds were against my reaching the summit (significant recognition, fine art photography book published). I likened it to a paraplegic attempting to climb Mt. Everest. I remember thinking as I wrote those words that I should google paraplegics who have climbed Mt. Everest, just in case. My search turned up Kyle Maynard who climbed Mt. Killamanjaro. Ok, that's not Mt. Everest, but still, I had no excuses for not trying.
Over the past two years I have reported out from the journey. I have written mostly about my frustrations, the entries I submitted that got nowhere, the work I shared that wasn't loved, the often tedious list of things that had to be done, tried, accomplished. But every once in awhile, there was good news to report. The Salon was over the moon about my work last month; a photograph was accepted to an online show; another to a small photography museum; still another was published in a fine art photography magazine. Small, but steady bits of progress, reasons to keep climbing.
If you have been following my blog you will have noticed there has been a gathering momentum. The museum show was followed by the magazine publication was followed by a more extensive display of my work in the same publication's next issue. I ended the year feeling that I had finally made it out of first base camp and was on my way up the side of the mountain.
The goal I set for the new year is simple. I want to be accepted into one of the major submission opportunities I apply to this year. Relative to my ultimate ambitions for my work, this kind of success will be required.
Submission season has just begun, and I have carefully logged all the due dates in my calendar. I am gearing up and getting excited. Because of my recent successful trend I am feeling confident about my work and I know my task is mostly to get the right set and sequence of images together. So when a fellow Salon member alerted me to an upcoming portfolio review session that would be offered by The Center for Photography at Woodstock I jumped on it as he suggested I do. The reviewers were significant people in the industry and I thought this would be a good way to tune my portfolio.
My review happened this past Friday. It went very well. I was told my work was beautiful. There were some quibbles with an image here or there. Most significantly, I walked out with an invitation to participate in an upcoming exhibition at CPW on artist books. I will have a booklet and four framed images in the show. This is the result you are told is possible, one of the big reasons to do these reviews in the first place. It is about as well as it can go.
And it gets even a little better. My reviewer was the new Executive Director of CPW. Her last job was Director of Light Work in Syracuse. Remember Light Work? One of the top artist in residency programs in the country. I let her know I applied last year and plan to apply again. I think she could be helpful.
No, I haven't gotten to the top yet. I'm still a long way from it. But these are the successes that are needed to get there. It's only 17 days into the new year. I think I may have to revise my goal for the year.
So here I am wondering if it just might be possible that I will one day be that guy. You know, the guy who sets out to do something there is no reason to believe he is capable of doing, but he works hard, perseveres, has a little luck and triumphs in the end? Will I be that guy?