Personal Project, Photography

PHOTO-ASSIGNMENT 06: Dear Me | Hank Willis Thomas

The last creative spur (Breaking the curse of a creative rut) seemed like a fake start. I am (apparently) still very much blocked. But small steps right? Writing this blog is an act of courage and creativity, isn’t it?

This assignment is on Page 344 of the book “The Photographer’s Playbook” – edited by Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern. I have this book in my possession since 2019, if i remember it correctly. It’s a fancy book, a compilation of 307 assignments and ideas by various photographers. It was overwhelming at first to go through this book, mostly because I have no formal training or education in photography and most concepts or assignments sounded so alien to me that I had absolutely no clue about how to approach these assignments. But then a few weeks back I opened the book again and just start with a random assignment and simply do it without burdening me with concerns like whether I’m correctly interpreting the assignments or if my work is good enough.

Suppose I do interpret an assignment in a very wrong way, but no one is actually grading me on these right? What will I get if I complete one assignment correctly? Some photographs. What will I get if i complete one assignment wrong? Some different photographs. It’s a win-win situation.

Hank writes in the description of the assignment:

If you can’t tell, I’m a firm believer in earnestness. I wish there was a word called “earnesty” though. I like the sound of that better. Anyway, it’s best to try to face yourself before expos ing yourself to other people. This is good to do when feeling blocked. Grab a piece of paper and pen. Better yet, grab a notebook. The one you keep your ideas in. Do you have a book of ideas? Where do you log your dreams? So, now that you have that: Sit down in a quiet place. If you can, get some other cre atives around to partake in the exercise. Being naked is always more fun when you have company. Take a moment to quiet your mind.

Compose a letter to yourself. You always know when you are lying so this should keep you honest.

So, I composed the letter and this is what it says:

Dear Sanchari,

Thank you for working through these exercises with me. Let’s cut to the chase, the reason I decided to be an artist is to make peace with my feelings, to get into a flow state, to channel my energy that had no other way out.

What I love most about it is this exposes my inner world to me – things I am not consciously aware of. I must admit I never expected to come this far when I first bought a camera, know these many people, produce this much work. But that’s okay because I have learnt that getting to know myself is a life-long process.

When I’m faced with creative challenges, I shut down. Which is really good because then I get to spend a lot of time with myself. But I wish I had a constant flow of creativity throughout the year or a solid community around me 24/7, as well as more money so that I could travel more frequently.

What I want most out of creating art is tremendously huge body of work. I do not want money. But I’m okay if I get fame. I am driven to create by the huge waves of sadness, love or loneliness that sometimes wail up inside me. What I like most about my work is my ability to create new concepts and when it is an accurate representation of my experience, or something that I had suppressed deep into my subconscious. I feel best when my piece is not anything like the mainstream pieces of art out there. I hate it when my pieces are too cliche or repetitive. I don’t like when my work feels like a replica of others or is of something too mainstream. It makes me feel common – replaceable.

I know I can’t control what others see, but I would like viewers to feel tragic and remember grave tragedies from their own lives, or at least get in touch with the deafening loneliness inside them. I would want them to become quiet or contemplate instead of asking questions.

I would consider myself successful if I get to document Europe extensively and publish books or get some grants or secure some solo exhibitions. I don’t mind doing a day job now or “getting there” or “making it” slowly over several years if it means I can do it without worrying about my financial security.

Funny thing! I wrote this letter in my journal on 25th December, 2021 and on 26th December i went out with a fellow photographer and clicked a sh*t load of photos.

© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen
© Sanchari Sen