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The Rebirth of An Artist: Part 3

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The Rebirth of An Artist: Part 3

"Art is not what you see but what you make others see" - Shot for the Heart & Hustle Portrait Collection

"Art is not what you see but what you make others see" - Shot for the Heart & Hustle Portrait Collection

Sometimes I wonder If what I create actually provides any real value! It's the questions that artists ponder on before pulling the plug on their creativity. It's the the self critique that very often does more damage then benefit. It's the question that lets us fall out of love with art. 

I was creating part time with not enough time to dig deeper into my craft. If creating art was about paying the bills then It became a burden.  People pay for flattery and I'm more interested in depicting the reality I see. I'll risk not appealing to everyone so I could focus on the aesthetics that only few will appreciate, after all the artist sees what other's only catch a glimpse of right? I let my ego sink in then spit it right back out. 

Creating art, is mental warfare at times. We can get so carried away in the process, we forget the purpose of why we are creating in the first place and more importantly why it matters to keep on creating despite being consumed by the noise of doubt.

Let me elaborate on this by saying through my rebirth as an artist, creating has become purpose for me & when I stop creating, I seize to exist. In fact creating as a purpose goes beyond art, it is what we do in life. When we write, reflect, share stories; we are creating vibrations through our energy. 

Now when photography was more of a part time flex for me, I was consumed by the noise of capturing instead creating. I was shooting what was in front of me but not truly curating the story of what I was seeing. I have digital archives holding thousands of un released images, many which I have buried for a time that warrants its curation for the world. In my last post I mentioned that: 

I became attached to photography as an art form because it allowed me to reclaim the arts and change my own lens to focus on what was not rightfully being shared with the world. I've always taken pride in being able to be a professional photographer to support other people who were passionate about something they were involved in and in some way, capturing their picture was a chance to share with the world, my passion.

What I should also mention is that we can burn the fuse on any of our passions. I came to a point where I stopped capturing people in my photography work because I couldn't see the value in what I was creating. It was a dangerous cycle for me because when I stopped adding humanity to my work, I lacked the energy that pushed me to continuously pursue my passion for the arts.

We need to be critical of who we are in order to create the best version of who we need to be. However we should never let that self critique stop us from realizing the purpose of our creations. I realized that regardless of the styles I shoot under, I never choose this art to create for myself. I chose photography to collaborate, create & inspire others.   

I'm counting 5 months of choosing to chase my dreams of creating full time. The eight years before that is what I needed to understand the type of creator I've become. I believe I'm starting to create some of the best work I've ever done but knowing that some of that best is still yet to come. 

This November I will be launching an exhibit with a group of young artists. It is the Scarborough showcase, which has been one of the most pinnacle projects of my photography career & the true catalyst for this artist's rebirth. This entire 3 part reflection has been the pre amble to an outdoor community based photography exhibit on Lawrence Avenue, called #WeAreLawrenceAve.

With the teaching & direction of Toronto's very own instigator of community & culture; Che Kothari, ( a strong mentor to me these last five months and an inspiration for years beyond that) I've been apprenticing under his leadership to co-curate the stories of humanity in a place that need it the most: my home in the Borough.   

The most important part of this work for me will always be the untold stories of others & that is what has led to my rebirth as an artist. The value we can provide in art comes from our own ability to create a world that has a better understanding of the humanity that exists within it. 

Stay tuned for the full release of the #WeAreLawrence Project next week


"Hard Knock Awakenings" was created as a form of reflective based storytelling, dedicated to realizations of purpose, struggle & passion in paths of life we have taken. 
Do you have a Hard Knock Awakening to share? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter
Like & share your comments on www.hardknockleader.com
This is leadership for the everyday hustle
For bookings on arts education & professional talks contact hardknockleader@gmail.com 


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The Rebirth of An Artist: Part 2

Shot on assignment with fellow creatives. (Hamza Khan co-founder of Splash Effects)

Shot on assignment with fellow creatives. (Hamza Khan co-founder of Splash Effects)

#truth I'm back to three cups of coffee a day & all I want to do is create stuff! To be honest, it didn't quite start off like this during my rebirth as an artist.

After I left my traditional career path for the one less traveled; I took my camera along for the journey one last time in hopes that I could rekindle my passion for the arts. After 10 plus years of photography being my side hustle I was struggling to find a deeper meaning in why I was striving to be a photographer. I knew I was going to start a new chapter in my life but questioned if art was something worth personally continuing when all I wanted to do was find a stronger long term focus. 

In my beginning stages as a photographer I've always enjoyed covering different subject matter as it allowed me to learn more about the craft. It was also the different opportunities I was given to shoot that encouraged me to have a positive outlook on life. Fact of the matter is that if it wasn't for photography I may have never fallen into my role of community organizing, allowing me to first document and then support the building of creative environments for young people. 

The difficulty was that as I became more and more preoccupied with my role as a civic leader, my photography work have to take a back burner. It naturally became less important when given opportunities to assist with the growth of a community. Eventually I no longer had the time to focus on creative shoots in Toronto & even the independent travel photography work while on the road would have to sit in my archives for a year or two before I was able to release any of it.

With the lack of committed time, I also started to feel that deep down inside the photography work I was doing wasn't speaking to me anymore. Something was missing from the way I was shooting that started to make it more of a robotic process than an art form. I would look at the shots I had take after an international trip and would struggle to find true purpose in why It was important to capture these images.  

Like the cave I was crawling into, my travel work started to move solely into lone landscapes; and while it spoke to so many people that have enjoy my work as photographer, I could not find the answers I was looking for to find stronger meaning in what I was shooting. 

Four months ago, in Montreal I gave it one last shot to figure it out. I started to look at the great bodies of work I had created from my travels around the world, to documenting some of the growth of the hip hop and cultural movements as a student. I knew all of these images were works that I had created, but what exactly was I trying to create and why did it matter so much? 

Today we live in a world that has been conditioned, overwhelmingly, to visualize.  Photography is a tool that has become more accessible for everyone to start taking pictures, yet not many of us may not be able to answer "what does it mean to take a picture?". In this image driven way of life, every second is a moment we feel pressured to capture; as if the moment un-captured is something that will be forgotten forever.  

In one way the democratization of photography is something I applaud. The accessibility has allowed for the untold stories to now be in the forefront of our world news. What I fell in love with was this reclamation of the art form. Historically used & commissioned only by the most elite, it was now a tool for the masses to empower and inspire the world through images. Today we are all story tellers, but of what nature?

The digitalization of the camera and our world has made it more affordable for anyone to shoot and share. The affordability in digitalization however would mean that the art of film photography would start to become a niche, warranted only for the camera purists or new age hipsters. This was a double edge sword, the possible forging of a new age camera elite & the disconnect to an important part of art history. Regardless the evolution of photography has attracted us all at some point. 

I became attached to photography as an art form because it allowed me to reclaim the art and change the lens to focus on what was not rightfully being shared with the world. I always took pride in being able to be a professional photographer to support other people who were passionate about something they were involved in and in some way, capturing their picture was a chance to share with the world my passion.

It was here that I started to realize what was missing from my work.

To be continued next week in: The Rebirth of an Artist - Part 3   


"Hard Knock Awakenings" was created as a form of reflective based storytelling, dedicated to realizations of purpose, struggle & passion in paths of life we have taken. 
Do you have a Hard Knock Awakening to share? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter
Like & share your comments on www.hardknockleader.com
This is leadership for the everyday hustle

 

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The Rebirth of An Artist: Part 1

Sid Naidu Photography (c) 2014   Shot for the  Screw Face City  body of photography work.

Sid Naidu Photography (c) 2014  Shot for the Screw Face City body of photography work.

At the heart of every renaissance, it becomes the role of the artist to build a community with others. For the artist creates works of art not for personal gain, they create art in hopes that it will one day inspire the world.  

So who is this artist & how did he get to this state of mind?

This is the story of how my side hustle as an artist became my main game.  

My strongest recollection of becoming an artist was through the medium of photography in high school, where I learnt to use a film camera. I was blessed to meet a teacher who for first time had given me the encouragement I needed to develop a passion. By allowing me to express myself freely, I was able to mould the craft to share my own message. I became inspired by the work of street photographer Jamal Shabazz and completed my first photo story on Scarborough as my own body of work. It was added to a student exhibit in my final year of high school and I felt that perhaps the camera was a tool that was given to me so that I could document the world in front of me. 

Truth is, I never expected the camera to become an extension of my mind and body like it is today. In fact it was only in university, when I was hired on as a student to capture campus life events that I started to be driven to see the world through a different lens. The camera allowed me to create peace at a time of my life when I chose to live in chaos. It was a muse that allowed me to get away, which probably explained why it accompanied me when I escaped to different realities.  

As soon as I was granted my Canadian citizenship in my first year at university, I started traveling. Without hesitation the camera became my most trusted companion as I backpacked through seven countries of Europe in 2005; carrying my father's Nikon film camera shooting reels of black & white and colour. My first digital point & shoot was taken to Bahamas on my second international trip in 2007, where I really started to shoot everything in front of me. When I  had saved up enough money to buy my first entry level digital SLR, that accompanied me to India in 2009 and then Costa Rica and Panama in 2010 to capture the magical spirit in what I experienced.  I didn't stop here, my step up to a novice SLR documented my travels to East Coast Canada in 2011 & 2014, It captured my yearly return to Costa Rica & Panama between 2011-2014, my first visit to China in 2012, Hawaii 2013 & Dominican Republic in 2014.

By this rate of world experience, many of you may be considering me to be a travel photographer of some sort. I considered myself more of a wanderer with years worth of unreleased memories that I have put away to be released and published someday. My travel photography work that was commissioned by passion rather than paid gigs and would often get back logged in post process, which became more and more time consuming as I started to move towards the traditional career that payed for my lifestyle.   

Looking back over the last ten years, I've shot everything from concerts, dance performances, hip hop showcases, portfolio shoots for artists,  proposal & engagements shoots of close friends, fighters at mixed martial arts training camps and most importantly faces of the people in my life. In my own growth as a photographer I've seen my own transition from lifestyle and events to travel and landscapes to culture and portraiture.

Covering different subject matter has allowed me to learn more about the craft by capturing new content & each subject was important to me learning about the type of photographer I wanted to become.

But I also struggled during the late end of those ten years to find a deeper focus in the subject matter I wanted to dedicate my work to. I loved the art & was passionate when shooting but deep down inside I knew something was missing from the art that I was producing. I was searching with no clear sight of the greater meaning and purpose of an artist.

This feeling became something that made me question the importance of photography in my life at a time that I was growing professionally and needed to cut out the things that slowed me down in finding a stronger focus in a career.

And so this year I came to that hard knock awakening where I had to ask myself if being an artist was something that was worth continuing to do in my lifetime.  

To be continued next week in: The Rebirth of an Artist - Part 2  


"Hard Knock Awakenings" was created as a form of reflective based storytelling, dedicated to realizations of purpose, struggle & passion in paths of life we have taken. 
Do you have a Hard Knock Awakening to share? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter
Like & share your comments on www.hardknockleader.com
This is leadership for the everyday hustle

   

 

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Project Update: We Are Lawrence Avenue

We Are Lawrence Avenue: an initiative by the City of Toronto x Che Kothari 

We Are Lawrence Avenue: an initiative by the City of Toronto x Che Kothari 

I'm excited to announce that I will be taking on an apprentice role to support the We Are Lawrence Avenue Project #WAL with Toronto's civic leaders & professional photographers Che Kothari and Jalani Morgan.

The #WAL Project will transform part of Lawrence Avenue East into a dynamic community driven photography exhibit. 

This iconic, east-west arterial route runs connects a number of Scarborough's  communities. This project humanizes the avenue; it will tell stories of shop owners, community elders and leaders as local youth work to document their community through photography.

 

The We Are Lawrence Avenue is part of the Cultural Hotspot initiatives 

The We Are Lawrence Avenue is part of the Cultural Hotspot initiatives 

This project is part of the City of Toronto's Cultural Hotspot Initiative which puts a spotlight on the hot beds of the city which are home to a diverse cultural scene and unique local history. As the city looks to provide opportunities for young people in inner suburban neighbourhoods around arts and culture; this program will bring cultural activities, art interventions, development opportunities and legacy projects to the different neighbourhoods. With an emphasis on youth mentorship and employment, business engagement, community building and artistic excellence, the Cultural Hotspot initiative seeks to draw new attention to Toronto's Hotspot area.

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Hard Knock Awakenings: The Urban Nomad

Sid Naidu Photography 2014 (c) A tale of two cities 

Sid Naidu Photography 2014 (c) A tale of two cities 

I woke up from a dream.. a dream of living a life between two cities. 

It was a restless life contemplation on a train, imagining a connection that could be created by being part of two uniquely different concrete jungles, yet not forgetting the third space of a life in transit that would become inevitable. One of the many "what if" thoughts that crossed my mind as I crossed between provinces.  

What is the difference between someone who wishes to settle versus the other who is always on the run?

To me it's nothing more than than the life they choose to live. One finds peace in comfort & certainty, while the other thrives on trying to organize the chaos that they find in constant risk and challenge. Every new journey to a city can bring possible opportunities & my direction has always been guided solely by the love for being on the road. A love which entails, seeing as much as I can see and learning about the realities of the world we live in.

I've visited a number of cities knowing that there is always a possibility to return to that same road some day. My experience as a traveler has always been a collection of stories that inspire me to do more. Every connection and every person met can be a valuable interaction. I've also been blessed to have people who are supportive of my crazy ambition and for this reason I cannot do less. I travel with a purpose to simply be present and build if needed. Someone who I met along the road recently told me "there is a difference between a tourist and a traveler." & that's where the story began.  

Now I'm back in T dot city for two weeks to freelance for a bit before I pack my bags again and YES I've decided to leave what I have know best for a good part of my life to try and learn something new, very possibly in a place where I would have to start from scratch all over again. I've been in a couple of games to know that when making certain transitions we can't be scared to start back at the bottom again, as it only sets the foundation for stronger long term growth.

I spent a week in a MTL to contemplate what the next challenge for me would be and returned still not having all the answers for what's best. However what I do and always have known is that by taking the path less traveled, I can bring a tougher but much richer experience for myself.

I've never known much about the settled life because my life has dictated otherwise, I've always felt like it was meant to be on the run. It's the kind of life where knowing what to pack becomes second nature as part of the travellers identity. Yet for every traveler packing is still an art to be mastered, because every journey requires a different types of bag for every path where new lessons are brought back in it.    

As I looked out the train I realized I was coming home, I recognized passing the boroughs that I grew up around. I remember once contemplating  what life would be like to settle down in those boroughs.

I closed my eyes and returned back to sleep as the urban nomad.


"Hard Knock Awakenings" was created as a form of reflective based storytelling, dedicated to realizations of purpose, struggle & passion in paths of life we have taken. 

Do you have a Hard Knock Awakening to share? connect with @hardknockleader on twitter

Like & share your comments on www.hardknockleader.com 

This is leadership for the everyday hustle 

 

 

 

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