I try every day to be brave. I try to conquer the anxiety stirring in my chest and face the fears that inhibit my creativity, my desires, my happiness. Every single day I struggle with how, or even why, I should try to push my boundaries. Why can’t I sit in my bed forever and drink tea till I die? Am I good enough at anything to successfully add to society? I really don’t have answers to any of my questions, and I am constantly asking new ones. What I have now realized is that the questions never stop. The worries never stop. But every single victory means that much more when your mind is competing with your body and soul to quench every accomplishment. Pushing through the anxiety leaves me standing at the top of a bridge, 180 feet of the ground, my heart swelling with the joy of living, watching the river below me wind through the valley like my veins pumping life, giving blood through to my heart. My hands sweat and my knees shake just thinking about falling, and yet I continue to climb anything I can get my hands on; mountains, bridges, walls, always feeling that panic, and always looking to push past it to the view of a lifetime.

Being an artist is beyond a doubt one of the scariest things I do. I have to find, somewhere within the depths of my self-doubt, the strength to have faith in myself and my art. I have to trust that someone, somewhere will appreciate my work, if only I can manage to pour my heart and soul into it, and be proud of it. Just about every other week I find myself completely doubting if this is what I want to do with my life; I doubt my motivation, my creativity, and most of all, my initiative. But photography is the one part of my life I always find myself gravitating towards no matter what, always trying to capture the moment and freeze it forever, always trying to search for a new outlook on life through my lens. I know deep in my head and my heart that if I work hard enough, if I make connections and market myself, and most of all, always continue to create, that I will feel accomplished. As an artist I share my heart and soul with the world in the form of my photographs. The panic that accompanies that unknowing, the lack of control that I have over my life as an artist takes immense self control to conquer. I have to recognize the bravery in the simple act of sharing my work, because that in itself is an accomplishment.

Sometimes a photoshoot that I have been planning for weeks with an experienced model will leave me with only a few photos that I feel inspired by, causing an onslaught of questioning all of my life goals and desires. And yet sometimes all it takes is a simple, impromptu adventure with a friend, my camera, and a new perspective that will leave me with images that feel new to me. That newness, the fresh feeling of creativity, is what drives me to constantly search for inspiration in everything that I do. I am never satisfied to create the same thing again and again, I am constantly trying to discover new ways to push my art and my life to new heights. My attitude towards success is not based on material wealth. I don’t care much for frivolity; what matters to me are the people in my life and feeling proud of my own work, and as long as I have those things, I can face any fear.

Photos & Words: Ilana Newman