A blessing in disguise

I’ve wanted to be a graphic designer for sometime now. There’s various types of gd’s around. Some deal with print, some deal in video, some deal with the designs of buildings or what’s in the buildings. Some design logos and some design the sign that the logo will find itself on. I wanted to be a graphic designer of the computer element, meaning building websites and the like. I spent years studying applications  like adobe’s suite of products from everything from photoshop to dreamweaver to fireworks. I also dabbled in other programs also. My plan was to be a freelance type, where I would mainly build websites and stuff like that, but would also be able to cook something up in print or video if I ever needed to, sort of a jack of all trades in digital graphic design. My graphic design career would be  a sort of fallback plan, while I would work on my writing, hoping to write that great American novel people speak of so much. Graphic design would be my main career since I knew the computer age and the internet was here to stay and people would always be looking to hire someone who is good at digital graphic design.

Recently, actually, scratch that. Not that recently, as a matter of fact, for a while now, I’ve lost that feeling I once had about this career. The excitement I had for it has left me and the caring I had for graphic design once upon a time has dissipated. So in my school, all the graphic design people have to go through something called sophomore review, where they pick the best out of the best to go through and continue with that major. Out of all the students who are in that major (and there’s many) only 20 get picked. You basically present the best work you’ve done for the past 2 years up to the most recent point to all the faculty in your major and they decide whether or not you’re good enough where you can continue in your major, or if they’ll drum you out because you’re just not worthy. After they’ve made their decision, they give you a letter telling you whether or not you made it through. Well my sophomore review came and went, and I got my letter. According to the checklist the faculty uses and provides to the student in the letter as a guide, (should that student feel they want to re-apply to graphic design if they don’t make it or show you how good you are if you do) I had average design skill, my professionalism was poor, they were concerned about my work ethic, verbal presentation and overall class involvement. My Craftsmanship was labeled average and poor. Needless to say I didn’t get accepted.

Now to most people this may have been a hash, bitter pill to swallow. But do you know what I felt? Relief. For the first time, something not going the way I had planned, worked out. For sometime I had been having mixed emotions about continuing on and even flirted with the idea of changing my major anyway, now that decision has been made for me. Call it fate, destiny, the stars aligning in my favor, what have you. All I know is that I’m taking this opportunity and running with it. The great thing about sophomore review is it’s kind of a second chance type of thing. If you don’t make it through, you have the choice of either trying again or doing something completely different. I look at the checklist and see the things they put down and I don’t deny them, don’t fight them or say to myself,  “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” I know my effort this semester or even half of last semester hasn’t been like it was. Fact of the matter is I’m not one of those people who can just plow through something if it doesn’t interest me, and graphic design just hasn’t interested me in sometime. What does and always has interested me is photography. Long before I discovered the joy’s of Kerouac and Rowling, the chills of Poe and the vividness of Rice, I enjoyed the beauty of photography. 

I wanted to be a Playboy photographer as far back as high school, and yes I know, what high school boy whose ever seen a Playboy doesn’t? But it was more than the women in those magazines, though at that time, they had a lot to do with it. It was the composition of those pictures, the style, color, and overall look of those images those women wound up in that I liked. Any doofus with a camera can take a picture of a nice looking woman naked, but not everyone can take that picture and make it into a presentation that looks good, artistic. And yes, there are some spreads that are far from artistic, but then there are some that are outstandingly beautiful, as if they should be hanging in a museum somewhere. Since then I’ve graduated from the viewings of Arny Freytag’s lovely ladies in the pages of Playboy, to such photographers as Carl Lagelrfeld, Ansel Adams and my favorite photographer of the moment, David Lachapelle. I’ve changed my major from graphic design to photography, something I know I still care for and feel passionate about. 

I took black and white photography studio 1 in the first semester of this year, and realized how much I missed and loved working in the labs of the photography department. How much fun I got out of taking a picture, then developing it. Anxious to see whether or not that shot I got off with low light at dusk came out or not. How the images from your negatives slowly appeared on your photo paper seconds after you placed it in the developer. This is what I want, this is what I want to do, where I want to be. I’ve taken pictures here and there over the past year with my digital camera (point and shoot so I can’t do all that I want with it) and it’s still as much fun going out in the afternoon and taking pictures downtown or evening as it was for me going around town in high school. I’ll also be minoring in Creative writing, further cementing my want and love of writing and wanting to be better at it.

I look at my failure of not being able to make it past sophomore review as a blessing in disguise, as something telling me what I had known for sometime, that graphic design just wasn’t for me. I look forward to my new path in photography, something I know I will never tire of, because unlike graphic design, I’m not choosing this because I feel it will make the best career path, but because it will make the best path for me in life.


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