Twenty Seventeen

| January 3, 2018

As to careers, they are vaguer than ever before. I am not as sure that I am an artist. I might try writing my adventures, but the personal element makes that very difficult. I could never endure any position with routine, regular hours, and monotonous work. Unless I am having new experiences, broadening horizons, some sort of change, I cannot feel that life is worth living. I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone whom I could really envy, unless it was Edward Weston. ~Everett Ruess

As in past years, I sit to write this post pondering the significance of the ending of 2017. There isn’t one, for me. Or, at least there isn’t one founded in any meaningful milestone or other consequential event in my life or work. But, as I realized in past years, pausing to reflect on the events of a full year is good in itself, and seems especially worthy when shared alongside similar reflections by many of my colleagues.

It may seem trite to say that 2017 had been a tumultuous and unpredictable year. Indeed, if this was not the case I would consider it reason for alarm. Borrowing from Nietzsche, “is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” (with benign and predictable things).

Recovering from a prolonged illness has been a particularly interesting (and at times decidedly miserable) experience, but it is hard to describe the sense of awakening and the realization that this episode is now in the past. In the midst of it, it became difficult to even remember what it was like to not be sick, to not feel constantly jaded and depressed. I did not anticipate the relief of feeling like I woke up from a long nightmare to realize that my faculties remain; that my ability to sense, to appreciate, to feel inspired and creative, were merely dormant but are still intact; to realize that I am still in there.

I did not go as far or as frequently into the backcountry in 2017 as I have in previous years—a result of overcommitting myself to various deadlines, and of being decidedly out of shape due to my illness. 2018 will be similarly busy, but the lesson was learned. I realized, not for the first time, the truth in Socrates’s admonition: “beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

Despite unforeseen health-related delays, I am particularly proud to have released my new book, The Landscape Photographer’s Guide to Photoshop / A Visualization-Driven Workflow. A couple of new book projects beckon and I look forward to immersing myself in writing again.

I continue to contribute regularly to two of my favorite magazines—LensWork and On Landscape—and hope photographers continue to support these and similar fine publications to keep them advertising-free and content-focused.

As seems to be the tradition, I hope you enjoy a selection of images made this past year, in no particular order or theme.

May the new year be exciting, unpredictable, productive, and enlightening!

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Category: All Posts, Featured, Thoughts and Musings

About the Author ()

Guy Tal is an author and photographic artist. He resides in a remote part of Utah, in a high desert region known as the Colorado Plateau—a place that inspired him deeply for much of his life and that continues to feature in his images and writing. In his photographic work, Guy seeks to articulate a reverence for the wild. He writes about, and teaches, the values of living a creative life and finding fulfillment through one’s art.

Comments (3)

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  1. Tif says:

    Love the Ruess quote, and tend to agree. Also, the folllowng quote resonates with me: “I did not anticipate the relief of feeling like I woke up from a long nightmare to realize that my faculties remain; that my ability to sense, to appreciate, to feel inspired and creative, were merely dormant but are still intact; to realize that I am still in there.”

    I am sincerely hoping that in five or six months I can say the same, as I just put in my notice of resignation at “the day job” and will be heading into unchartered waters come June. I’ve been at this particular desk job for six years, and during that time have felt like any creative muscle in my body has gradually and painfully deteriorated. I am hoping I’ll find that my own ability to be inspired is also still in tact, and that indeed I, too, am still in there. Here’s to being inspired. Wishing you the best in 2018, Guy. Thanks for always being a voice of grounded optimism.

    • Guy Tal says:

      From what little I know of you, you seem tenacious, strong, and courageous. I believe that anyone with these skills, and having the grit to go with them, has what it takes to find a life that is meaningful and satisfying. Don’t put a clock on it. It will happen in time, and not necessarily in the way you think.

      Until then, as they say, illegitimi non carborundum!

      My best wishes for your new journey, Tif.

  2. John Wall says:

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better! I look forward to checking out your photographer’s guide.