This year has been difficult for me. I have always been a very straightforward, honest and transparent person. Ego and appearances are secondary to being authentic and sharing experiences so that I can grow and other people may too. So. This year has been difficult for me. I am trying to do something – many things actually – that haven’t really been done before. I don’t have a road map, and most days I feel like I’m driving blind (in a very large manual transmission bus, no less). I feel like what I am doing is important. In the most basic terms, I am trying to start a conversation. I want people to think about art as something accessible that can add value to their lives. The programming at the gallery, the online project The Ten, the ginormous Crusade tour idea, the blog posts and podcasts on the Crusade site – these are the actions to spark that dialog and thought process. The flip side is that these actions are also ways to help emerging photographers grow audiences for their work.

From the outside this may all sound very exciting and energizing and fun. Many days it is. But many days it feels like I am swimming against the tide. There are days when I sit at my computer and just hear “no” from everyone I reach out to. There are days when I meet with someone who tells me my idea is stupid, and I should just sell the bus and drive around Atlanta with photographs in my car. (But I had my son cast one of his newly-learned Harry Potter spells on that lady, so she’s got hers coming.)

I value community and collaboration above all else. That is a huge reason I am doing this. And the community that has come together through this Crusade project and formed a wonderful cushion of support and encouragement around me has been invaluable. But a really tough lesson I have learned is that I seem to be atypical. The resistance has been pretty intense and has come from some really unexpected places.

And so. This year has been really difficult for me. I feel very strongly about helping photographers and encouraging people to connect with art, but it takes a lot to steel yourself against daily set-backs and continue to move forward with faith and confidence in yourself and what you believe in.

Since my Zen master says to never let a good crisis go to waste (the “your idea is stupid, sell your bus” moment sent me into a bit of a tail-spin), I did make the photograph above to capture the crisis and then told myself to get my shit together.

And then the next day I had lunch with the most wonderful woman. She is going through some things that are much more difficult than finding funding for an art tour, but she has also been in my shoes with trying to change the tide of her photographic community. It was really great to be able to share and support and challenge each other. Collaboration. Community.

I think I need more of this in my life to off-set the lonely sitting-at-my-desk rejections, and so I had an idea (shocking, I know). It is an off-shoot of an idea she told me about that she participated in years ago. I want to start an in-person, regularly meeting, creative community of photographers (or just open, engaging, life-loving people – wow, that yoga is really getting to me!) in Atlanta.

The idea is to all work on a 365 project, a concept that fascinates me: you take a photograph every day for one year. I don’t believe in strict rules (I certainly don’t want to add another thing to my plate), so whether it ends up being a photograph a week or nothing for a month, the idea is just the intentionality. A way of looking at things. And sharing. Meeting with like-minded people to look at images, talk, support. . . like a modern-day, photographic sewing circle. A shutter circle! And of course, there would be wine.

I’ll let you know how it goes. And as is my way, if this appeals to you, please do it in your own community. We could all use a little support and encouragement.