Monday, July 12, 2010

Great Expectations

What a find this morning! I love this photo from Dubrovnik, Croatia. I love the amazing texture and range of subtle colors. I love all of the layers and angles. I could look at this photo for hours and continue to discover new things.

I began working with my Dubrovnik photos this morning with the idea that I wanted to let myself be surprised. To see what images would pop out that I did not expect, did not plan. There are times I create my art at the moment of taking the photos with intention and foresight, lining up a composition just so, taking multiple exposures and compositions to study and see which I like best. When one of these comes out the way I visualized it, I am satisfied, but not necessarily overjoyed. Why? Because, with the work and intention I set at the time of creation, I expected at least one of those images to come out well.

But the images that often fill me with joy and excitement are the surprise ones. Like this one. Where my inner eye saw something in the moment, caught a frame or two but didn't dwell on it. I don't even remember capturing this image, and so to find it so wonderful now is a joyful surprise, a little gift in my day.

I worked with a guy that said, "Expectations are premeditated disappointment." And there is some truth to that statement. When we expect something to happen and attach to specific outcome, we can be satisfied when it does turn out but when it doesn't happen we are disappointed. But, what if we create without any expectations for the end result - the specifics of how it looks or how it will be received? What if we let loose our inner eye and detach from the outcome? Every image can become a surprise, every outcome positive - wonderful no matter what the specific details - because we didn't set up any expectations. By letting go of those expectations, which are all about what our minds can envision at that moment, we allow space for other new and wonderful things to happen which are beyond our current vision.

This doesn't just apply to creating art, but all aspects of our life, our work and our relationships as well. In her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach says, "I approach my work with a passionate intensity, acting as if its success depends entirely on me. But once I've done my best, I try to let go as much as possible and have no expectations about how my work will be received by the world. I have consciously chose to be surprised by joy. It's a choice you can make as well."

I'm making that same choice to be joyfully surprised by the outcome of my work, my art. From the creation of it in-camera to the reception of it by the world around me. That doesn't mean I won't be intentional about creation anymore, that I'll stop visualizing an outcome and seeking to achieve it, but it does mean detaching from the end result. Because I've found it's a lot more fun to be surprised than to be disappointed.


  1. What good thoughts...thank you Kat. I am really thinking through similar things at the moment...quite deep really, how you stay passionate whilst having healthy detachment. Thank you for sharing this. x

  2. kat, i love this photo and your reflective post. you are a very talented photographer and writer. thank you for sharing your gifts. i love the idea of "consciously choosing to be surprised by joy." I will be thinking about your post for quite is one that will stay with me. i look forward to visiting your blog often and am going to add it to my blogroll on my blog. i'm so glad we were able to connect thru the flying class:)

  3. yes, it's best when i let go of expectations. in all things. not just creating art!

  4. Great photo. Yes--life is much more fun when you are not attached to outcomes. :)


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