This past weekend, just before everything slowed down for Thanksgiving, I got a chance to reflect on my photographic journey. While it is easy to quantify the technological and social success of a craft such as photography, it is much harder for us to ask what the emotional impact is of creativity and creation.
When I look back at the past four-and-a-half years, I think of photography as a loyal and constant companion. I am quite thankful for the role it has played in helping me deal with a deep sense of loss that came from the shutdown of GigaOM.
We are living in boom times for startups. Every year, more and more entrepreneurs are striking out on their own, trying to find a new opportunity. As an investor, I am fortunate enough to experience the Cambrian explosion of entrepreneurial creativity. However, I have also witnessed many broken dreams and unrealized ambitions. It is hard for others — be they media, investors, employees, friends, or even family — to understand the aching that failure (or what is perceived as failure) leaves inside one’s soul. The dull ache is always there, a constant reminder of what could have been. But in time, if you are lucky, you start to make sense of it all. You learn from your failures and get back on the magic carpet to take the ride all over again.
For me, photography has been that route to recovery. It allowed me to speak without saying a word. It allowed me sadness and loss without anyone around to see the pain. The act of photography — not the photos themselves — allowed me moments of solitude and contemplation. Out in the field, walking into the wild with my tripod and my camera, I slowly transitioned from being lost to being lonely to being alone. And thus came the rebirth — both of the soul and the mind.
Photography has been a highlight of 2019, because, for most of the year, I have been in a subtle funk. This is mostly because, like most men in their early 50s, I have been struggling to reconcile the past, the present, and the future. Life’s frameworks that helped you get where you are don’t mean anything when it comes to where you are going. As the year starts to come to an end, I am beginning to get excited by the prospect of a new decade and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Earlier in October, I was featured on the Leica website, and they posted a little film about my experience with one of their new lenses. They also included my photos alongside legends such as Steve McCurry. Strange when one considers that my photography started the day after GigaOM shut down. So, what they say about one door shutting and a new window opening…well, that seems to be true. 😁
Photos themselves, on the other hand, have made me realize that perhaps I should focus less on what I lost and more in terms of being rich in memories and all the great times I had. After all, who remembers the photos that they didn’t take? Or the ugly moments that led to something magical? Pictures are just a small way of keeping track of memories and dreams. And as another landscape photographer puts it:
Memories are what photography is all about. Sure “getting another location under your belt” is how social media conditions us to do it, but that’s wrong. It’s all about preserving the moments when you got to experience something amazing. I am lucky enough to have a group of friends equally as passionate about traveling and the art of photography as I am.Bryan Minear
December 1, 2019, San Francisco
Photo by me with Leica SL. Made in Japan using the SL 24-90 lens.