For the past weeks, I had an assignment that involved going around artists and exploring tourism sites and locations in provinces in the Philippines.
Wherever we went, we experienced what was there to experience, met the local people, and got good looks at the local spots and scenes.
And we took a lot of pictures.
The people I were with were artists, with deep experience. It would be no exaggeration to say that they took really great photographs.
I then took the opportunity to ask them for tips and advice on how to take better pictures. What they shared with me, floored me.
We weren’t carrying any professional grade cameras or equipment. All we were using were the cameras on our mobile phones.
The little pictures on the little screens had big character, and had no shortage of beauty and style. The pictures were composed beautifully, and naturally attracted my eye.
They told me that photography isn’t only about what you want to put into your picture, but it’s also what you choose to keep in your picture. Also of importance, is the choice of what to leave out of your picture.
Your photograph also tells a story. And all the elements, the combination of them, and where they are in the picture, contribute to weaving, creating, and sharing a story.
And so all of the angling, positioning, lighting, and all the techniques and tricks of photography contribute to reflecting your choices, and sharing a story through the picture.
A picture also speaks as much about the photographer, as it does about the audience of the photograph.
It’s also about perspective, how you interpret, and how you communicate.
The creative process of photography that they shared with me is a lot like living. There are questions that you answer, maybe even on a daily basis, that then shapes and shares your life.
What do you want in your life?
And a lot of us want a lot of things in our life. Nice things, pleasurable things, beautiful things, rich things.
Maybe even importance, meaning, purpose. Maybe even love.
No question then that there are things that we want in our life. The real heart of the matter then is this:
What is it then that we want in our life, and how far are we willing to go to get it?
The first part is getting clear and specific with what is it that you want. What does it mean for you to have that in your life? Can you clearly envision and state what it is?
And when you have an idea on what that is, how much effort are you willing to expend to work for it?
Of course, there is no sure 100% thing really in this world, but I’d like to believe that by working for it, working harder and working smarter, you increase the chances of having it in your life.
Success loves, and is attracted by, hard work and effort. Sometimes, even a little luck.
What do you want to let go of in your life?
In my case, I had a lot of bad habits that I wasn’t aware was stopping me from getting what I wanted.
I wasn’t eating right, I wasn’t sleeping right. I kept mindlessly surfing on the internet, and played a lot of games and just watched videos mindlessly.
If I wanted a healthier body and mind, as well as more time for more productive and interesting pursuits, I had to give up those bad habits. Even though they were comfortable, and made me feel safe and happy in the moment.
I also believed that I would amount to nothing, and that helping others and getting value for it was extremely hard. I had to let go of those beliefs if I wanted to have a better life.
It can also not just be what you want to let go, but who you want to let go of, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Reminder: it’s the when that you have most control of. let go the soonest.
What do you want to keep in your life?
This question is about your non-negotiables.
What is it that you can’t live without, and would die if left without.
Balance is also an important part of living, because life is made up of what we keep in it.
And what we keep in our lives, is what we pour our energies, heart and soul into. It then grows and blossoms, and gets stronger and stronger.
Make sure to keep the right things in your life.
Count what you keep, and keep what counts.
What message do you want to get across with your life?
Like a picture, our lives send a story and a message to others. How we live our lives communicate that to the people we touch and interact with, to the people who see us and have experiences with us.
Or experiences of us.
What then do you want to say with your live and how you live it? What message and story do you want to impart, and what change do you want it to do?
Maybe this should be the first question you answer about your life.
Your answer to this question reveals hints as to what your answer for the other questions can be.
Begin with the end in mind. Start crafting an end in mind.
There will never be a perfect photograph, but the artist keeps on taking and taking pictures.
Keep on answering the questions.
Be the photographer.
There are steps, and a process to taking beautiful and meaning-full pictures. Instead of letting someone else compose and take your photos, why don’t you be the one instead to compose and take the pictures?
Would you really want others to be saying what should be in or out of your pictures? Would you want people to be doing the same with your life?
Be the photographer. Be the driver. Be the leader of the process. Be the creator.
Be creative with your life.
Create with your life.
Create your life.
Share your story.
Share your life’s message.
Live your life.