To my past, present, and future self, all wrapped up in one soiled newspaper,
Don’t listen to yourself.
What you think love is, is just an illusion; a Monet of a beauty that when seen up close, are just made of tiny dots that mean nothing if not put in the right place, in the right shade of colour. That need for perfection in precision (or perfection in anything, really) is what is making you ill, in more ways than one. Please don’t do that to yourself.
You deserve better. You deserve all the imperfections that make you different from everyone else. Love yourself, for what you are, what you have; that is most important. Think about how foreign the words self-care was to you just a few years ago. Gather your own dots, lines, light, and darkness, and make your own masterpiece, in your own time, without actually knowing how it will all turn out.
And yet, as I write this, I know how it will be for you soon.
You will become the mother to the most beautiful little girl in the world, and she will become the prophet of your discovery into self-love, and with this, your appreciation and gratitude for the imperfections of life, will come.
Because of her, you will embark on a spiritual and emotional journey through photography.
From taking photos of her tiny toes and burpy smiles, you will eventually end up taking self-portraits that will be the pinnacle of your first steps towards better mental and creative health.
Nurture the things you love as it waters your roots from deep inside.
You will soon learn that logic will come to you one day, bang you in the head, that’ll make you realize that rules will only make you and your work look and feel stifled, rigid, and conforming. Break free from that (school of) thought and just take that damn picture. It is difficult to explain the feeling, but you’ll know when it is just right.
Photography has led you to all sorts of people from all walks of life and you will keep learning from them. Each one is made up of stories of their own culture, traditions, race, religion, family, and it will do you good to listen to every one of them. Give them the respect they deserve. Appreciate those who want to build the community with you, and compete only with yourself.
When you travel the world, don’t order room service. Go find some locals and make new friends and eat new food and do something you wouldn’t be able to do if you weren’t there. When you are home, do the same.
Take as many photos as you can while doing this.
Even when you don’t feel like it. The only way to get out of a creative rut is to keep on moving. There is a shot right there waiting to happen, that you’ll miss if you keep yourself enveloped in excuses.
I hope you will see that taking that break from taking photos of clients has done you good.
Your work needed to breath; it needed to be free from creating that which pleases others rather than your own eyes.
I hope you have taken that out-of-focus photo or that photo that echoes the sound effects of a horror movie when you look at it; that you have freelensed for a month, laid down on the grass to look up in the sky, and do anything you want and everything you don’t want, so you find your style.
You know what you’re made of.
Just listen to yourself
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER :
Currently, in her hometown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Lisha Zulkepli enjoys traveling and exploring parts of her own country with her daughter and husband, and hopes to expand this need for movement, and change, to other parts of the world as well.
Every day, she looks forward to waking up to good coffee and anything salted caramel she can find.
Photography and chocolates helped her care for herself when depression tried to destroy her.
She has vivid dreams and enjoys getting lost in a book.