Erica Prairie — Minnesota
Course: Career Training 2011
It’s the evening before my first day of Summer Intensive. It’s a bit surreal that I am writing this
from my basement apartment in Missoula, Montana, that I just moved into after relocating from
Minneapolis, Minnesota. So much has had to fall in to place in order for this to happen that I really
can hardly believe I’m here. A few months ago, I made a list of all the things I needed to get done
before school started. It was overwhelming, but it gave me a goal – check everything off the list,
then sit back and enjoy the journey!
Enjoying the journey isn’t something that I have historically been very good at. I tend to be too busy
worrying about all the little things along the way, or worrying about what’s next. Which is really counter
to how I believe we should live. I believe worry is futile and is a complete waste of time. That brings
me to my first goal for my SI experience - to worry less and enjoy the moments more.
Goal number two is to fail more. I’ve heard it said that great success in life generally only comes after
great failures. Moreover, that fear of failure in fact, limits success. This sentiment has been on my mind
a lot this past year as I’ve been thinking about next steps in life. And that has made me realize that I
haven’t failed enough. Sure, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and things often haven’t gone my way, but more
often than not, I tend to play it safe.
My fears keep me from really taking risks, and ultimately may be keeping me from really experiencing success.
Maybe photography will never be anything more than a hobby for me, but maybe I’ll find that if I take a
chance I’ve got potential to be really good. Or maybe I’ll just learn to fail gracefully. I don’t know, but
we’ll see where this education experience takes me. And that leads me to goal number three – give myself
more grace. Some people can hear or read things one time and then apply them with perfection. Then there’s
me...I’ve sat through the lessons on the basics of photography (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) multiple times
and while I know more today than I did a year ago, I still have a lot of questions. And even though I’m here
to learn, I’m going to have to give myself grace to in order to muster up the courage to ask an elementary
question five weeks after we’ve already extensively covered the basics. My goal is to give myself grace, be
okay with not having all the answers and ask the basic questions...again.
At the end of this 11-week journey, I’m hoping that I might be able to take better photographs too. But that’s
not my ultimate goal, despite that I feel like I’m at a photographic precipice - I know I need to shoot more
to continue to grow as a photographer, but everything I shoot leaves me a bit discouraged. For me, more than
anything SI is about so much more than just learning how to take good photographs. For me, I’m hoping that
taking better photographs will come as a byproduct of learning to enjoy the journey, learning to not be afraid
of failure and learning to give myself grace.
Ultimately, I’m hoping that through what started out as a journey for better photographs, I’ll end up with a
better me! Stay tuned...
Eleven weeks ago I was starting Summer Intensive – with no real idea of where this journey would bring me.
I still definitely don’t know the answers, as this is more of a beginning than an end, but I can say that
I’ve definitely enjoyed my RMSP journey. Which was one of my three goals, so I’m pretty excited about that.
My other two goals included taking more chances and giving myself grace. I definitely took more chances –
and my photography grew as a result of that. I tried things that I haven’t tried before, I shot things I
haven’t shot before and even when I didn’t like what I was shooting, I just kept shooting. I learned some
of the things I like to shoot and some of the things I don’t. I learned to follow my crazy creative voice
inside – sometimes it knows what it is talking about, even when it seems a bit scary. I’ve still got a
ways to go with that one, but after ignoring it for years, it’s a bit shy.
Regarding giving myself grace, I think that’s a goal I need to work on some more. I think that one is always
going to be a challenge for me. I have high expectations – and like most things in life, that can be both
good and bad. I think I get caught up in expecting too much too soon. And while some people are good at
photography from the moment they click the shutter, some of us take a bit longer to find our photographic
I am definitely one of those people. But that being said, I’ve found that voice whispering in the background.
I’m excited to see what that voice produces in the coming days, months and years.