Amanda Palmer sings the hits

A portrait I took of Amanda Palmer in 2016. 

“In both the art and the business worlds, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple: The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not.”
Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

I’ve been reading Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking” thanks to a recommendation by my new little adopted sister Aynsley. She’s the daughter of my college mentor and she recently moved here from Michigan to pursue a career in esthetics.

When recommending the book, I told Aynsley I photographed Palmer a few years back. She was all, “NO WAY! I am one degree away from Amanda Palmer. I think I’m going to throw up.”

She wrote that if she had a religion it would be Amanda Palmer. And now after reading a good bit of her book, I get it. Amanda Palmer is rich with a good honest kick in the teeth. She reminds us that vulnerability and honesty is key to creative exploration and execution. Secrecy and shame are the Devils that suppress art and kill self exploration.

And, I hate to write it, but in a world where women don’t have nearly the presence in the art world as they should, Amanda Palmer is a tour de force of originality and motivating presence!

I watched Palmer’s TedTalk back when I photographed her. She’s an inspiration for sure. She’s super creative and tends to fly under radars while having the biggest following you never knew about.

That quote above. That shit about knowing and not knowing. That shit is true. And it’s not until I embraced the insecurity that I started feeling like there was art in winging it, art in chaos, art in vulnerability, art in acceptance.

Yesterday, I was on set with an amazing crew photographing a lovely model for a new mattress company. I had my gear out everywhere. I setup lights and mods, and my equipment was spread out from the bedroom to the bathroom, down a hall and into a bedroom. I leave lenses all over the place, all uncapped and exposed.

And when we walk away, we magically get beautiful photos. But in the act, damn, I feel like the world is a chaotic as it can be.

And you know what, I love it and hate it. I’d much rather know exactly what gear I need. Not leave gear out to be stepped on or knocked over. But I love it at the same time. It’s a weird presence that I bring. It’s me. And I accept that.

Over the last few years, I’ve suffered from mental challenges of fear and creativity paralyzation like no other time in my life. I amplified levels of shame and dishonesty in ways that I’m discovering don’t make any sense.

There tends to be an ebb and flow within most people for a time of negativity and a time for positivity. I’m enjoying the flow of positivity at the moment. I only hope I can keep it up.

There’s this model I know who has discovered her own, let’s say, religion. I’m really not sure if that’s accurate. Her name is Nasreen Ameri, and she calls her idea Carrorism, an extension of the made-up word “Carror” which she defines as the opposite of “Terror.”

On Facebook, she’s been posting positive quotes and pictures of what appear to be hearts she finds everywhere in the world, in cracks in the pavement, in oil spots on the road, in the way food is shaped on her plate.

How cool is it to look for love in everything, even things we find as inanimate as pavement.

I’m not necessarily going to call myself a Carrorist. But I love when positive people influence me with thoughts of wonder and intrigue. When the build while destroying. Isn’t that what it’s about? Creating one thing while eschewing something else? You can’t be both lazy and productive. So when you concentrate on art, you are also demolishing zombism, paralytic fear, shame, doubt, dishonesty and war.

Or maybe I’m missing the point all together. I need to go think on this a while.

Everyone’s vacation is the same

This supercut of images from social media feeds reminds me how homogenous and uncreative the majority of the world is. It’s like driving down the street in Any Town, USA.

It reminds me, in part, why I live in Chicago. There’s so few strip malls. There aren’t as many chain restaurants. We’re packed with cultural options, museums, parks and theater.

Chicago is one of a kind. There is no other town or city like it. Cities are packed with people from so many different perspectives, that it’s difficult to be one-minded or straight thinking. I can run down the lake path, pass the most beautiful woman in the world in Yoga pants, followed by the oldest person I’ve ever seen running, to a woman running with a prosthetic leg to a wheel chair athlete, and then pass a homeless person sleeping in the grass.

That’s not to say that Chicago is absent of ennui or people without purpose. Chicago is rife with people who wake, dress, eat, work, eat, TV, and go back to bed. What’s the fucking point!

The everyday challenges, if you’re open to them, open the mind to possibilities and ideas. The more closed the mind, the more zombie like you become.

It’d be hard to wake everyone up from their slumber of complacence. I’m not sure what that even looks like exactly. But I feel the need to do it often. What is it that would shake up the world around me in a positive and satiating way?

I mean, even in Chicago, everyone downtown with a camera or phone is pointing it up at the sky, up at the bean, up at the Willis Tower or the Hancock or the Water Tower. They’re pointing it down the river or up at the corn cob building. Buildings don’t have eyes. The Hancock and Willis don’t have beating hearts!

Where’s the connection to people?

I gotta go think about this for a while.