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Writing + Photography

Memoirs and musings of Darius Bashar. Toronto portrait photographer and writer, in pursuit of all things real, raw and intimate. 

Don't You Dare Call Yourself A Professional, Unless...

Professional athletes call it two-a-days. That’s when they train twice per day.

I had this realization last September. The months prior were very challenging and unique (for me).

Without warning, one of the most important humans in my life had been diagnosed with Leukaemia. This was the first time something like this had come up.

Like with virtually all major forms of cancer, there was a realistic chance that this incredible human, that has deeply impacted my life since my birth, would no longer be with us by Christmas.

This experience brought me to the realization that there is a “last breath” looking for all of us. This wasn’t some poetic concept anymore. It was fucking real!
One day I will LITERALLY take my last breath. It could be 50 years from now, or it could be 50 mins. There is no way to know for certain and nothing you can do to prevent it from eventually finding you.

We all know this to be true with our minds. But something shifted for me last September. For the first time in my life, I felt it to be true with my heart.

It felt as if someone would literally come and take my camera and laptop away. This made me realize I had so many more photos left inside me.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad I would be if I did not realize and release those photos in my heart, into the world. If my last breath found me and all of a sudden it was too late.

It was a wake up call. It was obvious to me that I had allowed myself to become lazy and stagnant.

What was I waiting for? I had all the gear. I knew how to use it. I lived in an incredible city. And most importantly I fucking love photography.

Once, a voice in the back of my head had the balls to say something as stupid as,

“You’re a professional and professionals only shoot when they get paid.”

One swift dirty look from my heart, shut that guy up for good.

  • I shoot because I love photography.
  • I shoot because it reminds me that magic lives everywhere.
  • I shoot because there is no other experience that makes me feel as alive, as creating.
  • I shoot because one day I won’t be able to. One day my last breath will find me, and this life will be over.

So, I made a decision to go out and practice photography every morning.

I’d wake up at 4am, just so I’d be able to do all my morning ritual stuff (meditation, yoga, writing, etc) and then catch the sunrise. I’d be home by the time most people start work. This allowed me to do all my paid “9–5” photography work as well.

A Few Example Photos From Those Early Morning Shoots: 

(click to enlarge)

It's a profound experience to create something before 9am every morning, especially when that creation has nothing to do with commerce. It reminds you that a good day and a good *work* day are NOT the same thing. 

We are not commerce machines put here to make and spend money. That's not what this life is about. We are expression machines that have magic inside us. We just need the courage to look into our hearts and share what we find. 

During my morning mediation today, I realized that I have forgetting all of this. I have NOT been acting like a professional photographer. I have NOT been practicing my craft 5+ times a week. I know it's February and it's cold as fuck outside, but that's not an excuse. Not if I truly desire to be world class one day. 

It was a slap in the face this morning. One I needed to feel. It stung, because it was founded in truth. Thankful The Universe spoke up and did not mince words. 

So, now I course correct and get back to the work. Get back to practicing daily. Get back to activley seeking out failure. Get back to understanding my limits so I can push past them. 

But also, I get back to fun. I get back to that amazing feeling of creating and expressing daily. I get back to working with remarkable humans. I get back to discovering more of this incredible city.  And I get back to finding more magic inside my heart. 

Slaps to the face can hurt, but they can also quickly alert you to danger. It's so easy to fall into zombie mode and miss all the beauty and magic that perpetually exists around us.

What do you think? 

Is it possible to call yourself a professional if you don't practice your craft at least 5 times per week? I know it's not the only criteria, but for me it's a crucial one. 

Love to know what you guys think.