My Experience In Trey Ratcliff’s The Arcanum - Level 3: Wasim The Inspired!

So this is where it all got real. The experiences, the Networks, The Challenges. It’s all part of the process here in The Arcanum, but all of it, at first, seems a bit disconnected, another virtual forum, albeit a more positively engaging one sans the trolls and the, but, still,

I am now Wasim The Inspired!!

And with that, things immediately get a bit more serious. As I started seeing streams of notifications and happenings within the community and cohort, I won’t lie, I started to get a bit overwhelmed and intimidated. People were engaging with each other, Hangouts were happening, weekly challenges were being levied, leveling ups were going on, and I was watching it all, wondering how and where to go from here. Where do I fit into this madness? So as an apprentice, learning from a master, I figured that not only was it was well within my boundaries to ask my master, the one, the only Robin Griggs Wood, for help, but, well, it was my responsibility to do so. So I did, and she responded so graciously and thoroughly, that there was no longer any reason, or excuse, for me to put this off. I was starting to feel the kick in the arse I so badly desired and got involved in this thing for.

Levels 3 and 4 go together…sort of. This is a stage where in one level, it’s my responsibility to put together an album of 10 images, in which I then have to ask my fellow apprentices in the cohort to set up a Google+ Hangout, and in that, they critique my images and help me choose the 5 that I will take with me into Level 4, a critique session with my master, Robin Griggs Wood. Mano a mano. A bit nerve-racking? Perhaps. But exciting? Yes. Definitely. My peers are going to give me critical feedback, and my master is going to finally tell it like it is and guide me to the next level in my creative journey.

So I put together a gallery mixed with some of my favorites and some that I was looking to see what others thought of. Perfect opportunity. While I was about to pop my Google Hangout cherry after just returning from an unplanned visit to the dentist, I was fortunate in that we almost immediately went into a screenshare, sparing my fellow apprentices the sight of my drooling half-numb face in favor of some purty colors and images.

I have to say, this was really really really really really really really really nice. This sort of engagement is something has been missing from my photographic journey completely. I’ve mostly relegated my work to online venues, and the social side of it all, well, seemed a bit of a chore rather than a necessity. Until now. This is the perfect venue where I immediately felt comfortable because I knew that this wasn’t a ego boosting show and tell or a pissing match or soapbox of any sorts (sorry L.A.), but it was a group that was on the exact same journey I was. They were dedicated to improving and growing and evolving in their respective crafts, and it just felt right. Hearing their ideas and thoughts truly brought to light SO many things I never even considered. I even ended up with a few alternate processings of some of the images that I ended up liking more than the originals. Immediately validating the value of such feedback, something that’s can be hard to get on board with, especially in such a traditionally solitary and personal pursuit as photography.

But I loved it. And I have a gallery of images I’m proud of to present to my master. And perhaps most importantly, because of this session with my apprentices, I was able, perhaps for the first time, to succinctly state what my goal and mission in my photography and work is:

To try to induce that childlike wonder back into the jaded adult mind.

To aim to straddle fantasy and reality, and push the fantastical in everyday existence right the point where you have to ask yourself whether or not this can actually be real and come away with an ‘I supposeeeee so.’ And if they’re trying to convince themselves, then all the better, for perhaps it’ll awaken a part of their mind they’ve ignored for a while.

In other words, an attempt to provide a reminder that, in addition to all our everyday worries and concerns and responsibilities - basically, the crap - just outside our bubbles, awe-inspiring beauty and curiosity still exists on a massive scale. Even more so than when were kids. We just might have to look a wee tad harder, but that could only help us appreciate it that much more.

My experience in Level 4, my first face to face and image review with my master Robin Griggs Wood, is coming in a few days. To find out which images I took with me to present to her and what happened, check back here or sign up for the mailing list in the right column to be notified as soon as I post it.

And in case you missed it, click here to read about Levels 1 & 2.

For more of my madness, take your pick: Instagram: @wasimofnazareth Ello: @wasimofnazareth Google+: