Yesterday I entered the living room of my girlfriend’s parents. My girlfriend and I have been together for ten years. She had gone with her parents and her brother to the hospital to hear what could be done about the recently found tumor in her mothers (62) pancreas. The result was devastating. It cannot be operated and there is no other cure possible. She hopes to live to see their 40th anniversary of marriage, her next birthday and that of her husband in January. I entered the room where the family was sitting at the dining table. They were all defeated. With tears in their eyes they greeted me one by one by receiving and giving a big hug. I had heard the news earlier in the afternoon by phone, but entering this room became a reality check. The mother would like to fight but that is impossible. Even though the news has not sunk in, she has already decided to make each day count. She also looked back at her life and was happy with the way she has lived it.
The described happening got thoughts running through my head and often they were intertwined with photography, my own life and people in general. Not all of these thoughts were completely sane but did lead to answers further down the road. Thoughts about how we spend our time. Recently I had read a post by photographer Jeremy Cowart on how he wished he had invested less time into e-mailing and his words stuck with me. It’s not only e-mail, it’s also facebook, twitter, the internet in general, TV and other procrastinating activities. Being completely honest, I am sometimes too good at procrastination and it can sometimes lead to a void. Of course I thought about 500 Photographers within this context, and to be 100% honest the thought crossed my mind that it is an irrelevant piece of internet in which I have invested thousands of hours of my life, sitting on a chair, staring at a screen. Luckily I can say that this is not true. The “archive” I’m building has value to me. I started it for myself in order to learn. A side-effect of this project is you, a large amount of visitors that come here for inspiration; that is something of value too and gives this project something extra. I’m proud of that.
What I’m trying to get at is that I truly believe that you should not be spending too much time on this website. The same counts for twitter, facebook and all the other activities that might give us instant gratification, yet does not give you much in return in the long run. Go do that which will give you fulfillment. I know that 90% of the visitors of this website are active in the creative field. When you finish reading this message, turn of your computer and go produce, plan a shoot, pick up a pen and write down ideas. Whatever gets you moving forward into creating something. While you do this, promise me one thing: make it something of value to yourself. Forget about what your clients might like, what your parents, neighbors or anyone else would like to see you do. Do what you need to do and make it count.
I’m going to finish 500 Photographers and I will probably continue in some way once the list is complete. However, I’m going to do my utmost best to create a photographic oeuvre of which I’m proud. Let’s all make the short time we have on this planet count, first and foremost for ourselves. Go live and enjoy it, I know I will!