On Sunday, I had the pleasure of celebrating one year since being introduced to The Pups. This milestone came as just the right time, as I’ve been spending the last few weeks reflecting on my time around the greater Leather and Kink Community. This reflection revealed both a steady affection towards my friends and chosen family, but also the realization that I’ve grown dependent, in more ways than one, on this ongoing body of work.
Let’s start with the positive:
This year has been one of immense growth, both personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be the only one to say that my work has taken huge steps forward both in aesthetics and in conveying a clear (and concise) narrative. While I had produced strong images previous to my work on Human Pups, I regard this as the first cohesive body of work that is strong as individual images as well as a collection.
I have also build what can only be described as “Leather Fam,” a chosen family of leatherfolk. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, and we’ve learned together. I am a better person and a better artist for having met them.
90% of the work I produce now is centered on the world of leather and kink. I have to acknowledge that this focus on such a specialized subject, as well as my own investment into the project has left me with a kind of tunnel vision. When I was reflecting, I realized that I was spending more time hanging around the people I have connected with and less time actually shooting. And since I was producing less, my mental state began to decline. I had given so much of myself personally and formed such tight bonds, that I had lost sight of my original intention which was to portray this group as a photojournalist and a portrait photographer. Initially, the bonds and friendships I built contributed to the work, whereas now they began to replace the work.
I’m not the first person to become consumed with the subject of their work, and I don’t imagine I’ll be the last. What is important now is to examine what steps I can take to re-create professional and personal distance. I don’t mean distance in that I will become distant to those I call friends, but rather a distance where I allow myself to breathe and stretch and explore new creative avenues. It’s time to take a step back and allow my sights to widen again.
I have already begun to reclaim my life (saying NO is extremely liberating), but there is still a while to go before I can feel refreshed and ready to embark on the next adventure.