Everyday we wake up with a specific purpose. It could be a routine mission of going to work, to school or to a supermarket. Or we wake up for the mere fact that we need to get up because we cannot stay asleep 24 hours a day 7 days a week as it is part of our daily rhythm. Our alarm yells every five in the morning annoyingly telling us that we need to move our lazy asses. To many including me, not being able to put food on the table has become our daily inspiration, unfortunately. So everyday, we meet our bosses and co-slaves to dance to the tune of this entertaining song called “labor world.” Yes most of us do this and persist on doing this because we have to. Because the escape door from this tragic routine seems astronomically distant. We are miserable asses doing unhappy jobs day and night. For this reason, a hero to serve as an inspiration becomes an utmost importance. And this hero is not only for our daily lives but also for our artistic ventures.
By the way I will not discuss “inspirational life-related stuff” in this article. The above paragraph is just an introduction. So, let’s talk about the importance of a hero in photography. I hope you are not visualizing any Marvel characters when I say hero. Dammit!
In the field of photography, all of us have a champion in our hearts. Whether you are aware of it or not, surely you are looking up to somebody. It doesn’t matter if you know him personally or not. Let’s call him/her a “hero”. Hero in the sense that he/she inspires. He makes you get up and shoot early for a sunrise even though he is not an alarm clock. This hero exhibits seemingly unmatchable skills and talent. He is normally one of the “rock stars” of the craft. But hey, they didn’t get to that position over a midday nap. Like musical virtuosos in the past, years and years of practice were dedicated to the mastery of instruments and the creation of great symphonies. That’s why we can easily sense tremendous musicality on its tunes and melodies. Same principle is applied to the creation of astonishing paintings and sculptures. They are not created on the same day the artist decided to pick up a brush. They are the products of years of continuous efforts, honed talents and dedication. The best of the bests. The greatest of the greats. The pinnacle of human artistry. These artists of the past serve as unmatched heroes in the present time. They inspire generations and beyond. They will never be erased from history.
In photography, there are three persons that I consider my heroes: Marc Adamus, Michael Kenna and Rarindra Prakarsa. There are a lot of them out there actually. Even though they are complete strangers, they’ve managed to inspire me even without uttering a single word; just a showcase of great photography was enough. They’ve made me persevere. They’ve enthused me to learn more about the craft. Though, I am not as good as them they have made a better photographer in me.
Having a hero doesn’t mean being a copycat. You’re just being aware of the value of the right jumpstart. It really doesn’t matter if you try to copy somebody else’s style or works at the beginning of the path. For me, that’s being on a right track. However, do not stay on somebody else’s path too long; long enough to lose your true self somewhere down the road. Just use your hero’s marked trails to reach a good vantage point of your dreams. And from there, you begin treading your own path. Create your own style. Don’t live a photography career under somebody else’s shadows. Always remember that nothing shines on the dark side of the Moon because it is always blanketed with darkness. However, be aware that darkness is very useful for you to see the faintest of lights. Use this shadow to point which light in the dark sky you want to go. Follow this light until you’ve come face-to-face with it.
Your heroes had been to the same kind of challenge. They persisted. They persevered. They followed their chosen light amongst the billions scattered in the night sky. Like what they did, follow your own light too and reach for it. You will notice that the farther you walk towards it, the brighter it appears. As you come closer, you begin shining too. Reach for it and become one with it.
Upon your arrival face-to-face, grab hold of this impeccable light and f*cking place it in front of your trembling chest and let it penetrate the very core of your heart. Fuel it with your burning passion and pump it with your unstoppable fervor until it reaches its detonation point. Feel its flawless power as it flows turbulently in every twist and turn of your shaking veins; like a furious current making its way through a meandering river. Scream to the top your lungs and spread your arms and legs in the sky as you glow and release the chaotic power brought about by the fusion of yourself and your chosen light. Every f*cking eyes watching from a distant will be temporarily blinded as they watch you shine. Slowly, this yet-to-contain-power will calm down and contract into a crystallized glowing legend that is you. Behold the birth of a Super Saiyan. A Super Saiyan in the world of photography.
The world now is in front of another legend. You ain’t no Ansel Adams. You ain’t no Marc Adamus. You are the motherf*cking (insert your name). A hero. A legend. A beacon of passion and determination. Sounds really cool huh? Yeah. Why the hell not? Your name is the name of our new hero. Your name will echo through the years to come and your works will never be erased by the rising tides of time. Your name will be carved by the sharpest chisel on the surface of the hardest rock. Yes your name, we don’t care if it sounds awfully tagalog like Inodoro Panghi, Jr. What’s important is who you are and what you have become.
You are no longer living under somebody else’s shadows. You have become the light which others look up to. You are a hero now. You have acquired a great power to inspire, enlighten and move. You have the power to impact and influence. Use this power wisely. Guide others to find their chosen light too.
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