Why do you do what you do? Why do you create? DO you create? Filmmaker Salomon Ligthelm together with The Music Bed bring you The Great Abyss. Part diary, part mission statement, it’s entirely a thought for all of us who are struggling with the ‘why’s’ in a creative life.
You have to create things that are truthful, and authentic and honest, that resonate with the experiences and situations you’ve gone through…Have you surrendered yourself to the great abyss? Have you come to the end of yourself where you realize it’s not about you?
I’m paraphrasing, to be sure, but the words are visceral. In just over 3 minutes of gorgeous video shot on a Canon c500, accompanied by a perfectly matching soundtrack, Ligthelm invites you into his private thoughts and intimate life to share what he found to be the sole reason why he creates; that he has found his most authentic work comes from a place of surrender and service to others.
He addresses deftly, to the soundtrack of soft contemplative tones befitting the most pensive and honest of soliloquies, those things creatives think but do not say; the honest parts that begin with insecurity. Without hiding or dwelling on them, Salomon poses questions to the viewer he has posed to himself: Why am I doing this? Who do people perceive me as? Am I relevant? How can I be better? His ultimate resolution is an altruistic one, which is perhaps unsurprising, altruism is a recurring theme in things of value. But perhaps the video itself is a perfect example of his message. It’s an open letter, in service to others, and it comes across genuinely and beautifully. It’s worth your time. Two or three times over.
I’ve watched this video now 4 times. Or 8. It’s also 4 am, and maybe it was the Chinese food, but more likely my stubbornness will not allow me to sleep. The first time around the video was beautiful and there seemed to be a lot to discuss. The second time the message became more concise and simple. Now, it appears to me that this video, aside from beautiful to look and listen to, is a mission statement, and I haven’t quite heard a take on being a creative like this before, other than when looking in a mirror.
Touching on insecurities is tough for anyone, and Ligthelm opened with them. It was a good move. A problem shared is a problem paired, and something as simple as having your success judged by financial means is something I notice almost all creatives struggle with. Furthermore as a man, and somewhat a creative, I’m, as many of us are, sort of an ego covered in skin. The liberation that comes with life as a creative, is often dampened or overshadowed by the pain of being one; A slight word against our produce is going to cause some light bruising. As a result, I often see artists either shut in and re-produce rather than produce, or they strive for financial reward as validation.
This has a consequence. I think we are losing the battle with what is real and personal about our craft and business. Everyday I take in a veritable firehose of work and information, and the feeling that photography is getting less personal chomps at me. There’s so much fear of critique (largely valid given the destruction of creativity being brought on by trolls) and so much re-creation as people cling to trends they think will bring public validation and success. But is there any true satisfaction in finding success without pride? Pride, I think. can only come from putting forth truthful things.
There’s also this enormous cloud of jealousy that doesn’t help, that often comes in the form of hoarding information and all of this together kills communication. Real communication, which is, really, the business we are in. This culture of using all energy to look out for ourselves does little for real sincere communication. There is a sort of heartless commercial fog that’s settled on us, and if you haven’t seen it then maybe you’re in it.
Photography for many may not always be the pure and simple thing we romanticize about; For many, it’s really a machine and that’s no secret. The question begs though – how do we personalize the machine? Personalizing by nature is to be found in originality, and there’s a lot of sense in the notion that surrendering to your true self will bring out the originality, which in this day may be the most creative thing out there.
There’s so much more to see from each in this great collaboration. Really inspiring stuff to be found from both The Music Bed and Salomon. You can find more about Salomon on Vimeo and his site, and of The Music Bed, that offers unique and relevant, original music for film and photos on their Vimeo page and site.