Dec 152014

Photographer at Large

Michelle Leung


Photographer at Large Michelle Leung on Art & Fear

Photographer at Large Michelle Leung on Art & Fear

Adam’s Note

The end of December is the perfect time to reflect on the goals we set back in January.  All over the world people gather to clink glasses and celebrate the possibility of the future.  Maybe all of the rituals of New Years Celebration are to shrug off old habits and give ourselves an upgrade.  We gather up a new round of courage, set goals beyond our wildest dreams and then hit February and forget where it all went.  As Ernest Hemingway once said,

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.”

Behind our goals, lies the looming monster known as fear.  It is a powerful force that has many shapes and sizes.  Fear is not just the paralysis of an artistic block or being afraid to approach strangers.  It comes in the form of procrasticnation, excuses to do it “another day,” and the fear that if we put our work into the world no one will like it.  These are fears that everyone has, I have them, you might have them and some of the biggest names in art and photography have them.  But instead of going at it alone, I wanted to open up the conversation.  We should be allowed to discuss our concerns in a safe environment, free from criticism, because ultimately, once we are free of our fears…everything improves.  Please join me in welcoming a new Photographer at Large to the site, Michelle Leung as she takes us through her journey of Art & Fear.

Art & Fear

Michelle Leung

If my fear were personified it would resemble a ten foot gelatinous version of Miyazaki’s Totoro. I find my fear both comforting and frightening. Starting this journal, my fear initially sat heavily on my chest, making it difficult for me to breathe. But now it sits quietly alongside me.
This short journal was inspired by the book ‘Art & Fear‘ by Bayles and Orland. And I was encouraged to share these personal thoughts because it seems others might be enduring – or at least, experiencing - something similar. There’s also apparently a catharsis that comes from sharing my thoughts (and for those who don’t know me, sharing my inner-most thoughts is certainly not my forte), so I remain optimistic of this outcome.

Men's Shop before dawn. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

Men’s Shop before dawn. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

I am in a long term relationship with photography. I love it. But sometimes it doesn’t love me back. Despite this, I persist because I want the relationship to work - and “work” is the operative word. Apparently staying the course in the relationship with photography requires constant work – a lot more work than I had originally anticipated. I originally thought that photography and I could just have a casual relationship, but this appears unsustainable. I am blinded by my passion for photography, so I endure the highs and lows that come with it.

Coming to repent. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

Coming to repent. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

The parties to this relationship are my camera, others, and me. My camera doesn’t say much and doesn’t have much to add to the conversation. He looks back at me unblinking when I ask searching questions. So instead, I turn to think about the impact of others and myself in this relationship with photography. Big deep breath - here it goes…

Stay tuned for part two of Michelle’s series on Art & Fear later this week.


How have you dealt with art & fear?

Best-Adam Marelli 

  7 Responses to “Photographer at LARGE: Michelle Leung”

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and some of the images you create with your eyes and camera.
    Breathing deeply you create small pieces of art that create a different and beautiful view on our world.
    Thank you!

    • Thank you Monika for supporting Michelle in her exploration…personal reflection is no easy task and it is something rarely found in online discussions.
      Well done, both of you.


  2. Hey Monika!
    Thank you for reading the article and for your support. You’re always so kind.
    I hope you are doing well.

    Michelle x

  3. Michelle, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It certainly struck a common note not only for me but others as well. I find when creative block and/or fear arrive at my doorstep I stave it off by reading books about art or artists. Being able to explore their thoughts and ideas as well as the journeys artists have taken seems to act as a tool for refocusing. I can’t quite articulate why but it does work. Also, looking through books by artists I admire causes broader thinking in a fragmented way. It’s combining those fragmented thoughts into something more that is the next step…..stay tuned. I look forward to more of your writing. Penny Breen

    • Hey Pen!
      How are you going?? Its so nice to hear from you.
      Thank you for reading the article.
      I like your idea of reading books about art or artists. This year was the first I’ve tried to do this (Caravaggio and Art&Fear). I’ve also ‘invested’ heavily in some awesome photography books too.
      Please let me know if you read something you would recommend. When we last met in Kyoto you suggested I could study some images from Dorothea Lange, and I’m happy to confirm a book of her images is sitting here beside me.
      Michelle x

  4. Hi Michelle, I really loved your take on fear, particularly the changing relationship and how it moved from sitting on your chest and weighing you down, to sitting beside you like a close friend. It’s funny how it’s guise can change from threatenig to comforting in the bat of an eyelid (or sometimes many many bats of the eyelid!), and usually in the process it drives us to take action or do something different – sort of like a provocative friend who we trust but who challenges us!


  5. Dear Claire – you ARE my provocative friend whom I trust to comfortably challenge me. That’s why i love you dearly, x

    ps. my fear quietly sits next to me as guardian. i just need to gently give it a shove now and again when it sometimes repositions and decides to sit on my chest

Add Comment Register

 Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>