On Waiting

Waiting. I’ve always assumed that I am good at waiting. 

As famed British novelist Edward Bulwer Lytton (or was it Bruce Lee?) once said, “patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is concentrated strength”.  

We do that as photographers, while I am always doing the doable by self-assigning myself projects, it’s often a state of perpetual waiting and moving towards an opportunity. While working, I’m waiting and engaged in capturing the proverbial “decisive moment” in time.

But usually, that waiting is active. For a recent collaboration, I learned a bit more about really waiting. The premise of this personal project was that I photographed something I was inspired by but, unbeknownst at the time, I wouldn’t see or have a clue about the final product for nearly a year.

As a rule, the finished product of my commissioned projects is often a collaboration. It’s always a game of ideation ping pong, a creative back and forth as I work with my post-production partners and clients to get to a shared final vision, always with a deadline.

But this waiting was a waiting unlike any other. 

I couldn’t stew or spark or tinker. The finished product, while collaborative, was mine, his, ours, in a way that expanded my idea of my own work in an unexpected way.

I have always trusted my creative partners, but I am so appreciative of the perspective gained through this unorthodox partnership that I can’t wait to share where both of our work was taken in the best kind of unexpected directions.  But you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer, please.

It was the waiting that was the hardest part.

And I’m grateful for that waiting, which felt hard as we are in this current hard time. There are things to find and learn. I am always going into places sight unseen and asked to create. There is always uncertainty in these situations, but I have always called them visual scavenger hunts offering the ability to find beauty and comfort in the unfamiliar. I can still do that, do the doable.

For a few years now, I have been working on a personal portrait project of creatives and communicators in the Mid-Atlantic region. Over the last couple of months, I have taken the opportunity to circle back to ask what the creatives are doing now. During their times of waiting, how are they feeling, how are they sparking creativity in this current, uncertain reality? This has become The Creative Now series. Reading how they were coping really helped me with my own moments of how to do less. Not always easy in an industry where we’re all moving at warp speed.

I have certainly enjoyed being with my family over these last couple of months, but I found that I gained that quarantine 10. “How did this happen!?” Horrified, I immediately gave myself the goal of losing 10lbs in a week’s time. I made weight in eight days. It’s good to have goals. Thank you, Peloton. You didn’t think I could do it, Jane Fairfax!