© Joyce Lin












January 2006- Los Angeles, CA

by Joyce Lin
Assistant Photo Editor/UCLA Daily Bruin/Los Angeles, CA
Lately, I’ve been in a rut in my life and photography. I haven’t been shooting as much as I want and need, and it shows in my work. My photographs are dead and uninspired. I haven’t felt the rush to create that’s characteristic of me. All this before the Big Bad Event (BBE) that happened on Friday, and highlighted afterwards.

I really can’t talk about what happened during the BBE, but part of the situation involved my camera being taken away from me for about half an hour, and I felt so naked
I often use the camera to mediate between the world and myself. Sometimes at parties, shyly unsure, I just bust out my camera and start shooting. It gives me something to do, and often pulls people towards me, but usually giving unwanted attention, such as the most common and absolutely annoying, “Nice camera. It must take great pictures!”

The little things annoy me. Also, I believe that intrinsically, I am a shy person. Approaching people to take their photos is extremely difficult for me. I'm still working on my fly-on-the-wall tactics. For a while I wore non-descript-clothing to better blend into the crowd, but that’s just not me. And, no matter what I wear, people stare anyhow, since I’m toting a big camera, sometimes two or three. 

Small things about photojournalism bug me: the low pay, the trembly job market. I’m constantly wavering between my decisions. But I love to talk about photo and I love meeting new people, exploring new situations, and constantly challenging myself to create visually interesting and content-filled images. So, it’s not a questioning of passion; it’s a questioning of my own worth. Am I talented enough? Do I really have the drive to succeed?

I just turned 20, and graduate in June. I am longer a teenager, and soon will no longer be a student. My life is moving forward at an alarming rate. I feel so unready to face the world. Who am I, really? What is the meaning of life?

Over winter break, besides trying to break out of my comfortable college-student life with a road trip up the Pacific Coast, I read a book on the meaning of life, compiled from the opinions of a multitude of fascinating people the world over. Inspired, I decided to “research” the meaning of life myself, asking everyone even remotely connected to my life for their opinions.

I’m still working on the study; some of the reflections are very inspiring. It makes me ponder what I think is the meaning of life, too… I’ll write about these thoughts after I finish compiling everyone’s responses, which will be sometime in March. I’d love for you, dear reader, to contribute. Please email me (my email is at the bottom of the page) what you think is the meaning of life!

Graduating in June, school is getting madly hectic. I’m taking 25 units this quarter, teaching photography to middle school students (starting in mid-February or early March), working as assistant editor of my school paper … and trying to figureout my life.

Although I decided long ago that I wouldn’t worry about it, realizing that my current goal in life is to become a photojournalist, the self-doubt still haunts my mind. I am currently more scared than excited about graduation. Originally, I was planning to do another photojournalism internship after gradation, and then look for a job. I sent out about 21 applications, and received nine replies: six sad thin envelopes in the mail (“Keep shooting, and maybe someday you can shoot for us!”) and three blunt and painful emails (“Sorry, but no.”)

I’ve talked to enough photographers and gone to enough workshops to know what’s wrong with my photography (too much), and what’s right about it (I have a “good eye,” whatever that means.) Nonetheless, I like people to critique my work as often as possible, to more deeply rub in what I need to work on, although recently it makes it even more depressing, because I know what I need to do, and am trying to do it, but it’s not working out. I'm still pushing, but it’s frustrating. With my insane school and work schedule, I cannot shoot as often as I’d like. My photography, which improved so much during my summer internship, has drastically dipped into a black hole.

But not an endless hole. BBE, traumatic and horrible though it was, accentuated my major flaws, which I must address and conquer before graduating in June. The need to renovate myself screams at me; I must repolish my quickly fading passion for life… oh, but to live.

Every moment counts. Maybe I need to go back to the A Photo An Hour (APAH) project that I undertook during spring quarter. Maybe even try some more of A Photo A Minute (APAM), which I conducted for a full day last quarter. Maybe I’ll really push myself and do renditions of both.

For sure, I'm currently trying my best to balance out my life. I decided to knock out a bit of my social life, as I feel I’ve recently become too dependent on my friends. I need to learn to stand on my own two feet and take on the world alone. No emotional crutches. I'm taking more time on my own, exploring new places with my camera, experimenting in my photography, and making small tweaks towards positivity in the rest of my life. 

My life is going in a new direction. I really don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll face it strong.

Joyce Lin




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