Motivation is for losers, i.e. how a photo challenge brought me back to life

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Ostatnia aktualizacja: 2020-04-22. Autor: Milena

Supposedly motivation is for losers.

Waiting for inspiration may end up with waiting the whole life. And not lifting a finger. That’s why when I saw information about a photo challenge, I thought: well, maybe it’s a good moment for combining fun and study?

But ok, let’s come back to earth.

I wasn’t so wise from the first minute. At the beginning, doubts were “biting” me from each side. Because what will other think? What if I turn out to be really average? What if somebody laughs at me? What if somebody thinks that I’m stupid? What if my followers on the Instagram don’t like it? (The challenge was taking place on the Instagram.) What if I lack inspiration? (Check: above.) And what did I come up with, who do I think I am??

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Yes, not only you are sometimes full of doubts. My doubts were in this case such big also because at the beginning I didn’t fully understand the rules of the game. I read: “Take an identical or similar photo and tag me on it”. And that’s it. And then, the author of the challenge, Luís Godinho (an excellent photographer from Terceira; to get to more about him, click HERE, would publish an example of a photo with a specific subject (hastag) for each day on instastory. And the same for 30 days.

And I started taking photos.

For me, the breakthrough in understanding this photo challenge and my participation in it was a question: “But does he really want such imitativeness?”

Wyzwanie fotograficzne / Photo challenge, Day 1 #me

I heard this question on the very first day. It cleared my doubts regarding my participation in that photo challenge. I knew I didn’t want to be secondary. If I was about to participate in it, it would have to be me, Milena Dąbrowska, not a made up character. I want to take photos on my way. As I feel them. I want to learn something, I want to grow and… do something that makes sense. And it did make sense to me.

The beginning of this challenge coincided with rather poor time in my life. I had to arrange many issues in my life afresh and thus I was oscillating between working like crazy and moments (or whole days) of internal quivering and doubts if anything in this world had any sense. I knew it would pass but it was difficult to get out of this vicious circle.

Art therapy was a perfect choice!

Art is one of the best forms of therapy. Come rain or shine, you have to concentrate and move to another dimension. Instead of thinking about your job, flat, car – you have to focus on the light, shape, texture, message. You have to express yourself, so first you have to find yourself. In this case, looking for yourself is based on looking for a proper object to photograph, scenery, which means something to us, light, which communicates what we want to say, perspective, which reflects our way of thinking about the world and the photography object.

As in a theater an actor creates a character by combining what he finds in himself/herself and in the world, in photography an author presents the world theoretically real, but seen by the glasses of one’s experience, emotions, way of thinking. As many photographers, as many different visions. And this is beautiful. That we are different. That each of us sees the world in a different way. That there’s no universal pattern of living and experiencing the world.

Wyzwanie fotograficzne / Photo challenge, Day 2 #coffee

I learned to admire somebody’s photos without thinking “I’d like to be able to take similar ones.”

Because I’ve already realized that even if I learned it, it would be me. For example, I admire dark, gloomy photos. Gothic vibes, blackness combined with even more blackness, anxiety. But I already know that it’s not me. I love light, warmth, vibrating colours, joy. And although some of my photos are dark and sharp (and still mine!), a vast majority is warm and full of positive emotions. Because that’s what I have inside of me (also I’m not always able to dig out them) and what I want to spread to the world.

I opened my eyes not only into my inside, but also to the outside. Looking for good frames for the photos, I started noticing elements of the reality which I wouldn’t pay attention to in other conditions. For example: day 3, topic: pink. My reaction: I don’t have anything pink! Only a jumper from Decathlon and a backpack from Decathlon. And although I really like the provider of the most of my sports clothes, they are not really the best photo objects. However, a lot of pink suddenly started showing up around me! A colleague who came to work in a pink shirt, two varieties of pink flowers which “suddenly” bloomed close to my office…

The photo challenge opened my eyes to the reality.

Wyzwanie fotograficzne / Photo challenge, Day 18 #art

Not only pink started showing up from each possible side. The same happened to texture, architecture, art, reflections. Suddenly they were all around me. And you know what it reminded me of? That we see what we think about! Our brain unconsciously catches from the reality what we have our thoughts occupied with. Because it thinks that it’s important to us and that it has to prove that we’re right. (Because we love to be right, although it’s so stupid.) In practice, when we think that everything is bad, we see mostly what’s bad. And when we think that everything’s goof, we see mostly what’s good. I’ll leave you with your own conclusions on that.

In photography, I saw a possibility of being closer to myself and to the world.

During that challenge, I learned a lot about myself, about the way I see the world. I trained cropping, playing with light and with perspective. I learned to have more courage to take photos and how them to the world. Hoping that there’s somebody somewhere there who will see in this saved piece of the world what I saw in it. Or even more.

I also understood what I heard last year – that it’s not about taking hundreds of pictures, but a few exactly as you want. Thus, at the end of the challenge some of the photos were ready after a few shots instead of dozens of shots – because I already knew what I want to show and communicate.

Wyzwanie fotograficzne / Photo challenge, Day 14 #brunch

I also realized, not for the first time, that photography is a hard work – but work which brings a lot of satisfaction. It let you grow, live deeper, experience something stronger. Do we always have to experience things stronger? No, not always. But when we need to move our heart, we already know the tools to do it.

I haven’t won a juicer.

Wyzwanie fotograficzne / Photo challenge, Day 30 #travel

Nor one of the award-winning photos by Luís Godinho. The winner was chosen in a lottery, and I have won in a lottery only once in my life. I won exactly a juicer! And this time neither a juicer nor a photo. But I have won something else – a lot of fun, joy which I shared with my friends, a lot of suport in my development and action (warm „thank you” especially for my sisters and two friends who were supporting me and cheering for me during all that time!), stronger awareness of what I already can do and what I still want to work on, proud in staying true to myself (because I wasn’t looking for old pictured in the folders on my computer or my phone, I was really taking a new picture every day). And most of all, keeping upright for the whole month.

Usually, when I needed to bring myself back to life, I organized challenges on my own. Small steps, specific tasks to do, specific goals to reach. This time it was easier, I just had to participate in an already prepared challenge. And I decided to do it. Although it was so easy to say: “ I don’t feel like doing it.” Look for any excuse, listen to any of my doubts – lack of time, lack of motivation. And get stuck in the same place.

And you know what? Life gives us chances – we „only” have to notice them and „only” make use of them. And take the first step. Even without will, without motivation. They will show up later. Just take the first step. And then one more. And one more. Because if we trust, the path will lead it. Have a wonderful path!



Here are miniatures of the photos which I took during that photo challenge. Click on the photo to see it in full.

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