two rivals

2017-11-26

Writing came first. Back in Uruguay, I found fellow teens’ blogs in which they wrote about their everyday life. I liked reading them and decided to give blogging a try, too. It quickly became my way of processing the shit I was going through, all the ups and downs while being alone and lonely in a foreign country on another continent. Words were my life line when big waves threatened to swallow me. Honest words and the connection they enabled. My readers’ comments got me through the day, the week, the months abroad. They were all I had, six years ago.

Three years later I bought a mirrorless camera to make my little blog more appealing. I liked photography more than I expected, fell for it head over heels, and spontaneously decided to pursue it as a career. I want to emphasise that I had no clue about photography at that point. I just took photos of trees and flowers. But it was fun and something felt right about it, so I spent hours editing photos and lots of money buying basic camera equipment. I was a bloody beginner with a big dream and, thankfully, good intuition as well.

When I started taking portraits two years ago, I quickly got obsessed with it. I never stopped writing, it was still my way of processing everything going within and around me, but my focus fully shifted to photography. It was all I thought about, all I cared about. Maybe because it’s easier to say ‘I want to become a photographer’ or that ‘I like to take photos’ than to make writing sound like something serious. It was easier to measure my progress and ‘success’ with something visual. Also, photography is a way of involving others, a bridge, a connector. The social opportunities it offered were distracting, seducing, and I photographed without actually having something to say.

Additionally, I’ve always known people who were much better at writing than me. Mostly two classmates who excelled with fantastic essays and who started to share their work on public platforms. I was so insecure they were enough to put me off– I’ll never be as good as them, so why should I try? I didn’t allow myself to be too ambitious, to take it serious. Only now I’m starting to realise that I got it all wrong. I can’t afford to underestimate the importance of expressing myself verbally. Photography is just another way of figuring out and expressing what I have to say, but writing comes more natural to me. It’s still the what helps me most when I’m confused, happy, overwhelmed, sad, or just thoughtful.

Lately I’ve been more focused on figuring out what I want to say, what matters to me. Currently I believe the things I care about most are honesty, humans and connections and how I’m related to all this. It’s nothing fancy, I wish they were things of greater importance. Like finding a cure against a disease or saving the world. But we can’t choose where our interests lie, can we?  And whenever I struggle with the apparent lack of relevance in my work or the accusation of being self-absorbed I remind myself that so many of you, from all over the world, are here, reading this, commenting, caring.. so what I care about has to be universal in some way.

I never thought I’d say this but I realised that, at this point, I rather lived without my camera than without pen and paper. Life only makes sense after writing about it. I need words to cope, they are essential, photography is secondary. I’m not sure what it means to my photography, to my future as a ‘visual storyteller’. What I do know is that I have to take writing more seriously, figure out what I have to say and make the things I care about the focus of my photographic work as well. Writing and photography have been rivals so far, but what if I could make them work together?


Model: Serbian actor Djordje who was kind enough to let me into his world

25 Comments
    1. Hey Monika!

      Yet another honest reflection in your mind. I can definitely sympathize with the battle that you were going through – photography vs. writing – though in my case it’s drawing vs. writing. Drawing will always be a part of expressing myself but I am much stronger with words when I try to pinpoint exactly how I’m feeling. This post really opened my eyes to begin strengthening my writing just as much as I’ve been trying to hone my techniques with drawing. They’re both just as cathartic and powerful to use.

      I always enjoy seeing your new posts in my email so I’m excited to see you take your writing more seriously and where it takes you. :)

      1. Dear Cila, thank you very much for your thoughtful and kind comment and sharing your experience! <3 it's really good to know that I'm not alone with this confusion/struggle and it really makes sense to work on both :) I have no idea how to improve my writing (other than to write more), but I'm thinking of asking my creative writing teacher for more concrete advice.. anyways, thank you again and have a lovely week! <3

    1. Candid confession. I liked so much the comment you made to my comment in your earlier post, about the experience of journey being enough for you. This piece contradicts that comment of yours totally. I like that so much, when someone is not afraid to contradict oneself. Afterall, that’s what being alive means, I experience.

      1. Hey, thank you for your interesting comment! I’m surprised that you think that it’s totally contradictory – I think this post is also about the journey, and right now I’m trying to figure out what writing means to me and how photography can add to it. I’d really like to hear your interpretation, though, since I’m always rather confused about everything :D

    1. Gosh!I absolutely adore your posts,I only started to get interested in photography when I saw all of your amazing pictures and now I’m getting a camera for Christmas! My photographic skills probably won’t ever be as GOALSSS🔥🔥 as yours are but you inspire me a hella lot❤️❤️ xx

      1. Oh, you’re too cute, thank you!! I’m so happy (and flattered!) to hear that I got you interested in photography, wow :)) don’t underestimate yourself, you can get far with lots of work and dedication. Always feel free to ask me stuff if you need help xx

    1. It’s funny, I was just thinking how great it is that you found a passion for photography because somehow it seems more tangible and meaningful than writing. In fact most art forms seem more impressive than writing. But as I read the rest of your post, I think maybe it’s not about writing per se, but rather how we perceive the art form most central to us.
      Maybe it’s because you’re a writer that you’re more critical of your writing, hold it to a higher standard, see more possibilities, and always think “I can do better”?

      1. haha that was definitely a funny timing. i’ve started to approach photography from a different angle after this post, that helped me to overcome this little crisis.

        sorry for my late reply, i thought your comment was really helpful! i totally agree, writing is probably one of the most under appreciated art forms. i don’t even think of myself as a writer (i mean, what qualifies one as a writer?) and used to identify myself as a photographer. now i try to use both tools more consciously.

        thank you for your comment! :)

    1. I think your last sentence sums it up nicely. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Writing and photography can support and enhance one another, creating a more powerful expression than either one alone. I also think that “honesty, humans and connections” are very important and are, in fact, the only things that can ultimately “save the world.” You have talent and a gift for both writing and photography. It’s natural for the pendulum to swing from one to the other now and then, but I hope you won’t give up either one.

      1. You are right! Thank you very much for your encouraging words and support. I’m definitely not planning to give up anything (anymore); instead, I try to advance in both media and learn how to make them work together, figure out how they complement each other. :)

    1. I love your writing! You wrestle with such complex emotions so beautifully <3 And I don't think it's fair to say that using art (whether it's writing or photography) to connect with people isn't as important as cancer research. If art and human connection wasn't important, than dictators wouldn't imprison professors of history and literature and liberal arts (not my original thought, it's actually this article I read: http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/25/frivolous-humanities-helped-prisoners-survive-communist-romania/ideas/nexus/)
      Your photography and writing are important! Survival and health and comfort are great, but human connection is what we live for after we have our health and comforts <3

    1. Hi Monica,

      Writing and photography complement each other perfectly. Each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses, and using method together overcomes their limitations. For instance, it’s possible to present lots of information in a precise way through writing. But writing can also be boring and less visually appealing to some people. Mixing text with photos is a much more engaging way to communicate than relying on words alone.

    1. I’m so happy that you were able to pursue your dream in photography. Your intuition led you in the right path. Your photos are breath taking…seriously. Your writing is even better. I’m happy you enjoy and continue to do both and that you intertwine them so perfectly. <3

    1. “Life only makes sense after writing about it”. This is so true for me! I like your writing a lot, like I said before, it sounds very honest to me. And it looks like writing and photography mix well in a blog :)

    1. Thank you for expressing the conflict. “Positive conflict” has an appeal because it can sharpen both sides and produce something… pretty wonderful. I’d say your photos and your writing demonstrate this idea very well. Keep at it!

    1. That photograph is really striking – I love it.
      ‘I need words to cope, they are essential’. I seriously couldn’t agree more. It is how I make sense of the world, of the inner confusion and sadness, of life. It is a form of expression and photography a perfect companion to it.

    1. There is nothing more important than using our voices; nothing more important than saying who we are and seeking to connect with others brave enough to do the same.

Let me know what you think!

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