The Art of Hope

A few weeks ago we had an award-winning, world famous photographer drop by the En Foco office to say hello and see what we were about. After a mention of our Foot in The Door workshop for emerging photographers, he said to me, “What for? It’s hopeless.”  To that I replied, “What is hopeless?” He continued to say, “Giving them hope…”

In defense and frustration, I replied in a way I thought would be clear, by saying that our workshops give people what they need, in order to have a fighting chance, an opportunity: “We don’t offer hope, we offer ‘tools.’ It is up to those that attend to do what they wish with those tools.”

The Foot In The Door workshop was June 9 — today is June 28 and here I am still mulling this over. Yes, it bothers me. It bothers me greatly. I don’t think his remarks we intended to disappoint but the delivery of the words were narrow-minded, as he ended up defending his comment by saying that filmmaking is the future of photography. That is all well and good but, what his comment also did was express what others have said to us in many ways: Don’t be a photographer, it’s a waste of time.

It’s comments like these that so many of us have heard our entire lives, and I have personally struggled with them. So thank you Mr. World Famous Photographer for dropping by and lighting another fire in my belly!

And to those sitting on their bottoms and not showing the world how talented you are, take heed of my warning: don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, or you won’t, because you can. Believe in yourself, learn enough skills, and create an art of hope. If you don’t have a personal manifesto, use this and add on as you please. Warning: it’s only for those whom are convinced they are destined to be photographers.

Art of Hope

Step 1. Find like-minded people and create a support system. They will come in handy in challenging times.

Step 2. For the family and friends that don’t understand or support your dream, know that they love you and are simply afraid. Love them back and don’t try to change them. They will come around as you continue forward and begin to succeed.

Step 3. Your personal survival and the survival of your photographic career walk hand in hand. Meaning, you may need to have several jobs to support both, and they may not all be related to photography.

Step 4. Practice your Art. Re-train yourself with the latest technology. Things are always changing in the digital world. Stay ahead of the game: the guy or gal next to you is!

Step 5. When you feel you have done your best work, appreciate it, and then go further.

Step 6. Don’t forget who you are or your dreams outside of photography. Create those dreams as well, for no regrets.

Step 7. Submit to residencies, grants, call for entries (like our New Works Photography Fellowship Awards, see below)

Step 8. Tell people what you are doing. Make yourself accountable to your dreams and create a reality.

Step 9. Well, that’s for you to write.

So I hope that after reading this, you will take yourself serious enough to start investing time in yourself – do consider submitting to En Foco’s New Works Photography Fellowship #13, and any other deadlines you come across. Heck, New Works is a free submission. Did I mention Anne Wilkes Tucker, the curator at the Museum of Fine Arts/Houston, is the Juror this year?  Several years ago, Time Magazine named her as one of the most culturally influential people in the world.

New Works is designed to give visibility to fine art and documentary photographers of Latino, African, Asian and Native American heritage, living in the U.S.  Photographers working in any genre is fair game, so its a great way to push a body of work along beyond the normal scope of what you might think is possible.

If you happen to be selected, you will have an extra $1,000 to play around with, and goodies from different photo companies such as Bogen, Lowepro and Fuji. It comes with an article in En Foco’s publication Nueva Luz photographic journal, not to mention all of the press En Foco will do on your behalf… and to top it all off, a gallery exhibition in New York City.

So now, all you need to ask yourself is how late is that post office open, and get cracking –  you just may be on the cusp of greatness!

Click here to take a foot forward.

The postmark deadline is Friday, July 31, 2009

Photos by past New Works winners
Photos by past New Works winners. L-R: Meg Escudé, Wendy Phillips, Trinidad Mac-Auliffe, Michael Gonzales, Morgan M. Ford, and Ching-Wei Jiang.

9 thoughts on “The Art of Hope

  1. Thank you for the inspiration. The Art of Hope is worth every written word. I have long dreamed of being a pro photographer. I have finally dealt with it after 37 odd years.

    I listened to one of my parents and followed a career into something I was just good at. But, that is not were my heart was. I have always had the passion to “see the light”.

    The one thing I need now is for someone to believe in me but that is not going to happen unless i make it happen. Financially that maybe difficult but I have to find a way to make it work.

    Again, thank you for the inspiration.


  2. Outstanding and well said, Marisol. Your creative talents coupled with thoughtfulness and determination are a prime example of why I support En Foco! I am not a photographer but I love the medium and appreciate enfoco’s efforts to assist artists moving forward.

    Thanks for the inspiration and keep up the fight.


  3. Thank you! And, I had been talking myself out of sending in my submission, feeling the weight of what you mention above. What strikes me about what you wrote is that its what I heard when I started out oh a while back. What’s really cool is now there is a place like En Foco, to inspire us to continue.

    Thanks again!

  4. Hola Mar Y Sol,

    Que mas esperanza quiere uno que un nombre como el tuyo! “Whats in a name”

    At the end of the day beyond photo editors, curators, critics, other “fabulous” figures of photography usually patronized by the usual suspects worldwide who also forget that their is a social strata of underrepresented spectators, collectors, dealers and budding serious photographers, mid-career photographers & filmmakers who have against great odds; usually financial, marinated with the usual sazon of FINE Art’s world xenophobia have generated exceptional and unique works and archives that are priceless in our understanding of the world in which we all inhabit. The world is currently richer for the selfless works of people like Gordon Parks, Charlie Biasiny, Lorna Simpson, Sandra Eleta, Adal, Tontxi Vazquez, Manuel Bravo, Salgado, Dith Prath, Ang Lee, Wayne Wang, Agnes Varda, Miriam Romais and a cultural diaspora that includes literature, the arts and music. En Foco addresses this omission so to all you emerging flaneurs be all that you can be. Click! The rest is rubbish and rubbish can also be economically lucrative if you shoot if you’re a dot, dot dot-‘no name calling -it’s not professional. Double Click. Now go have and share your first show and feel the power of expression!

    All the best with rest, en la reconquista,
    (what else should a Boricua Photographer be doing in London & Europe)

    TV….still in London, UK


    PS a suggestion to all who read this check out Agnes Varda’s films and photography – a very rare talent in any gender.

  5. Oi Marisol,

    I commend you for your passion and your committment to hope! Photography is so much more than just a career. Not all of us are professionals, or persons seeking lucrative careers in photography. Many of us don’t even have a choice in the matter, we take pictures because their is a force that moves us to do this, a force beyond our own control. I take pictures “porque me lo pide el cuerpo.” Seeing the world through a lens that opens hidden worlds to others and myself is part of that gift, career or no career. So I commend you on your passion and courage in spreading hope. Photography is about vision, and seeing. Where is the vision in the statement of this “World Famous Photographer”? How terribly sad. Thank you for standing up for vision and hope. I like to think – borrowing words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu – that I am a prisoner of hope, and I pray that my photography reflects that reality! Punto! 🙂

  6. Im wondering about Puerto Rico residents for entering the enfoco workshops and if there will ever be another possibility where you come to PR and offer some of us the workshops here?

    I have been a member for as long as I can remember, I haven’t renewed my membership, but I go far back with Charles Biaciny Rivera et. al. My dearest basic photography teacher Frank Gimpaya. (my regards to him). Anyhow, I have since 1976 been taking lots of photographs and am still into traditional photography. I can’t let the medium go in its entirety. Its proven it last 100 years, on my on personal level i can’t say this for digital. Don’t get me wrong, I love digital, but can’t afford the camara i want. my reality.

    Anyhow…my regards to all of you and I am happy when someone stands out for what they believe in. Congratulations for this…and for ENFOCO. que VIVA!!

  7. Hola Carmen,

    Thank you for leaving a note on the Blog. As for En Foco going to Puerto Rico again, well you never know!

    Stay in touch and let other photographers know about us. We are all in this together.

  8. I stumbled across this post today while researching new imagery and felt the need to comment.

    In every time, no matter how hard, there have always been new artists who have gotten their start. Right now it’s very hard to ignore the future and I think that makes some people scared…and then, if they’re not careful, bitter. Finding ways to make peace with uncertainty and change is essential to a successful future.

    I commend your suggestions – with the first one being the most important – surround yourself and learn from those who are finding solutions!

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