Yesterday was fabulous. I went to the V&A (again) but this time with a purpose: a talk on America photographer Paul Strand, who has a significant retrospective on show. I studied this guy briefly in my early 20’s but never actually grasped the significance he had not only on early ‘candid’ photography but later on portraiture and still life/abstracts. It was both exciting and revelatory, which might sound a bit odd for a guy who only took pictures, but his work in New York (which is a town I dearly love) was enough to actually get me a bit emotional. In fact, there was quite a lot of emotion, and pure unmitigated joy at what I saw, and were the catalogue for the Exhibition not the size of a small animal I would have bought one there and then. That will happen (oh yes) but for now, let me just say how brilliant it was to spend a couple of hours just indulging in an interest I love and don’t get nearly as much time as I’d like to devote to.
Then, there was a shedtonne of Japanese food, and fresh sushi I watched being prepped in an old public house in Islington, and frankly, things were just unbelievable.
After that, there was an east London pub, and beer, and the realisation that people actually believe in me. That still seems odd, writing it as I just have, that I can inspire people to passion on a scale I wasn’t aware was actually possible. In fact, as I sit here with tears running down my face, it’s a concept I can’t yet totally grasp. That implicit faith that some people posses, I am good at this, has never been something I ever came to easily. I’d often be accused of arrogance in my youth, and this does often still happen with those who do not bother to take the time to understand what I really am, but the truth is it is naivety, pure and simple. I have a basic distrust in my own worth that goes back a very long time, to a series of events that effectively destroyed my confidence, and only now am I beginning to repair that damage.
Having the self-belief to express thoughts and opinions is something I’ve tried really hard with my husband to nurture in our kids, but I realise I’ve never really worked on that myself in reality: what happens is that this appears more often in my writing. It is is as if I can’t be touched in the imagined worlds I create, that criticism will never hurt when I’m ‘safe’, except the reality is that nothing ever ends up as sacred forever. I suspect one of my basic loves of photography stems from an image captured which can only be judged on the immediacy of that moment chosen. You can be critical of the choice of subject, lighting or composition, but it is only fleeting; eye blink of a constant, flowing life in progress. Those exposures can’t hurt, because they have already passed. I also discovered, to my considerable surprise yesterday, that the organic and sensual nature of other people’s nature photography can have provoke some very strong reactions within me. That was probably the most significant moment of the day, because what that then did was create a knock-on effect in my own mind as I allowed myself to open to possibilities I’d not previously considered.
I am beginning to actually believe I might be a decent writer.
— Alt the Fabulous (@AlternativeChat) March 18, 2016
If you have never struggled with a sense of worth, all of this may sound utterly pointless and navel-gazy. Yes, it probably is, in truth, but I’d be lying if I said this didn’t matter, because it so totally does. This is possibly the most important thing I have ever done for myself. Having to believe I’m capable is a fairly significant step forward.
After yesterday, my outlook is distinctly more confident.