Delayed New Year’s Greetings

As you might have gathered from the image above, I have not been doing much shooting lately. The image is from the place where I spent my New Year’s Eve - Alona Beach on the island of Panglao (Bohol Province).

Alona Beach is the kind of place that I usually cringe just thinking about. It’s full of resorts, cheesy bars, overpriced soulless food and annoying vendors. Nevertheless, I decided to come here, mostly because I was traveling with a friend who had been getting tired of not having internet or any foreigners around, but I also wanted to give it an honest try, since the last time I was in a place remotely similar (or I thought it was similar) to Alona Beach was in Goa, India and I actually had one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations of my life.

Well, Alona Beach ain’t Goa, that is certain. While some places in Goa are full of creative and interesting people and give off a really exciting vibe, Alona Beach is the opposite of cool and New Year’s Eve was the time when everything that’s not cool about it was amplified. Old men with young Filipina girls, groups of obnoxious western tourists, fairly boring couples on their one week vacation (no offense to them, they’re just not very exciting to talk to) and then there was the music, the awful, awful music. But it wasn’t just that the selection of music was awful (mostly), it was the fact that it was performed by cover bands, some of the worst cover bands I’d heard in my life. It is not much of a stretch to say that the screaming pigs at the livestock market I photographed a week earlier sounded just a little worse than some of these bands.

Nevertheless, I guess most people had enough alcohol not to care. The problem with me was that my lack of experience in drinking (I usually drink alcohol about once a year or when it’s forced on me during my travels, e.g. Romania) led me to choose what I might now say was the wrong drink for the occasion. My friend, a much more experienced drinker suggested that getting the “girlie” drinks (those things similar to Bacardi Breezers) would result in me feeling really high once the alcohol kicked in, due to the sugar, but feeling really low, once the effect wore off. I brushed off his advice, but that’s exactly what happened. Well, the down point was actually made worse by the fact that everything about the evening was crap.

Enough whining though. I think that all of us have these kinds of experiences every now and then. The thing is though, the next morning, it’s not like I felt bitter or that my celebration was ruined. I thought it was pretty funny how pathetic the whole thing was and how stupid I was not to listen to my friend’s advice about the drinks.

Much more importantly than whining I want to reflect very quickly on the year that passed. It was probably my most successful overall year as a photographer. Things with stock sales, magazine features, prints and eBooks really seem to have clicked or perhaps have continued to click at an even higher level since last year (well, most of them did). At least for now, it seems that I won’t have to struggle too much any more. I really do want to thank everyone who reads this blog and everyone who contributed in some way.

I am setting new goals for myself, thinking of ways to keep growing creatively, but it is not an “A to B” kind of process. There’s still a lot of trial and error a lot of steps back before there is a single step forward. I will, as I have in the past experiment, try new things, learn, and somewhere along the way I might create something decent, I might come up with a cool idea or a great opportunity will present itself.

I also want to address the increasing number of emails asking for advice on the kind of photography that I do, about what it takes or how to be a ‘travel photographer’ or how I create certain images. I still feel uncomfortable answering these questions, simply because I feel like though I know some things, I ultimately don’t know what consequences a lot of what I do will have. I’m not some wise guru, like some of the older, more experienced photographers might be, though even they probably don’t know where things are heading these days.

One thing that does seem to be more and more constant however is that my firm belief in the importance of creating a strong body of work holds true. All of you young folks (or beginners) should really be working your butts off to create photos that you are truly proud of. And I guess for those who have reached the stage of having at least a few of these, I’d say that you really have to be as creative and as relentless at pushing that work out into the market place, as you are at creating it. It’s much less fun, but no less important, heck, I hate doing that stuff for most part, but if you want to make something that even remotely resembles a living with your photography - you’ve gotta do it.

Again thank you everyone who has been reading this blog. That’s enough from me for today. Happy New Year! :)