It’s 9:25pm. I’m staring blankly at my computer screen. The deadline for this post is looming over my head and this is draft number 7 0r 8 or 15. I don’t even know anymore. I’ve re-written this more than I care to remember or admit. I feel my motivation waning in and out of existence. I knew days like these would come. I knew finding the drive to create new work would wear thin, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Why now? I was on a roll. Things were going well.

I think it happened shortly after I finished the above photo, or at least that is what I believe. This photo was basically a year in the making.

You see, I was supposed to shoot this image the week before I left for my internship with Zack, but not having the confidence in myself to do that, I promised to come back with the knowledge to execute it and to perhaps incite some riots 😉 (You can go read more about the why and how, over here and here).

I’m really, very proud of this photo that I made with the help of some amazing friends, but the amount of admin that went into making it was draining. From trying to arrange a date for the shoot that everyone involved was available, to making sure I had all the gear I needed to create the photo, to snacks to wardrobe and make-up. It took it out of me and I have one more portfolio image to create and I have to repeat that same process. Don’t get me wrong. The end product is worth every damn second of the bullshit that comes beforehand, but coming down from that emotional high afterward tears at my being.

I know I’ll push through and I’ll have people along the way edging me on, but getting up from the dirt, right now, seems like a mountain that I can’t climb, but I am slowly dragging myself up. The allure of creating new work, challenging work, that scares the crap out of me, is dragging me up, off my ass, and into the planning phase.

Failure is looming over my shoulder, waiting for a misstep, waiting for me to give up. I will not let the weight of this mountain crush me. I will push on. I will make that image and then conquer the next mountain. I’ve come too far. Find your Everest, whether it be admin or a lack of motivation and conquer it. We’ll be there to edge you on and grab your hand as you reach for the top.

Thanks for reading.

(Note: To find out what else I’ve been up to you can go here and here).

Bernard Brand

Bernard is a freelance portrait photographer, based in Pretoria, South Africa. Currently stumbling ass backwards into a full time photography career.

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  1. David Taranza

    great photo for your portfolio!
    I appreciate you share your photographic journey and its reefs with us. Giving up is so easy. Don’t do it. Go for it. Pursue your dream. For yourself. I keep my fingers crossed for you!

    • Bernard

      Thank you David,

      All I can do is share my struggles, doubts and fears. Acknowledge them, push through and as you say; not give up. I won’t give up!

      Thanks for reading

  2. Llewellyn Annandale

    This is one of the most stunning pieces of art I’ve ever seen. As a South African now living overseas, it brings so many emotions to the surface. I am amazed and am deeply moved by this piece. It’s fantastic. Keep going, you have the sort of vision that will make you a master artist!

    • Bernard

      Wow! Thanks so much for the kind words Llewellyn

      I didn’t know how it would resonate with most people (especially South Africans) because as a country we’re still experiencing growing pains, but I’ve also come to notice that it’s not just South Africans that can relate to the image, which is pretty great.

      Thanks for the encouragement and thank you for reading

  3. Jim Donahue

    Giving up should never be an option. I have been working towards a project for over three years and as difficulties arise I become even more stubborn to complete this thing.

    • Bernard

      You’re absolutely right Jim,

      There are just those days – and sometimes weeks – where I can’t seem to motivate myself enough, but then I do something as simple as write a blog post; people comment on it and that gives me the will to go and create again.

      Thank you

  4. Jason

    That’s a very nice image.
    A very, very nice image.

    • Bernard

      Thank you Jason,

      Thank you very, very much 😉

  5. David Charles

    This hits home for me right now. I’m currently starting to put together bigger shoots that involve a team in order to shoot what’s in my head. Right now I’m planning big shoots in three different states for the next few weeks and months. I can only imagine what will happen once the shoots are done and the adrenaline is gone. And of course, the pictures aren’t exactly what was in my mind. 🙂

    Keep going Bernard, I really like your posts! You’ll get back to the other side of the wheel soon enough.

    • Bernard

      It’s a little scary wrangling a small team of people am I right?

      I am glad to say that this is what I had in mind. I did however drive myself mad with concern, because if I didn’t nail the image it would be a waste of everyone else’s time and effort, so that was a big weight on my shoulders.

      And thank you David. I’ll keep on keeping on 🙂

      Thanks for reading

  6. Keith Maguire

    Wonderful image. Yes, don’t ever give up. I am not near the level you are with my photography, but I feel that same feeling sometimes. Every time I feel that way I always seem to be ready for something new. I’ve learned its kind of a cue for me to begin getting out of my comfort zone and do something different. Anyway, great work my friend.

    • Bernard

      Thank you Keith,

      I don’t feel like I am any sort of level with my work. I feel like a bottom feeder, but I do also feel that I pushed myself when making this image, which is exactly what I set out to do. I was out of my comfort zone and it was fantastic 🙂 Hahaha.

      Thanks for reading

  7. Carlton Wolfe


    Thank you for this image and for sharing one of your “demons” so publicly.

    I’ll admit to being only tangentially aware of the situation in South Africa, and that as such, I probably don’t understand the full meaning embedded within image as you intended it… but it has motivated me to learn more about what I don’t understand.

    But more importantly, you’ve described so well in this post something that I imagine many of us photographers (and artists in general) struggle with. While we intellectually understand the nature of the process and the (psychological) tools we have at hand, intuitive understanding of the struggle can easily remain elusive. And when we’re personally in the midst of that internal struggle, it’s easy to forget that we’re not the only one afflicted and that others understand. It’s easy to lose our grasp on that faith that in a world saturated by images and apathy, that there are people who will connect with our work, value what we create, and appreciate that we’ve made the struggle, even if they themselves don’t fully understand the scope of the effort it took to create it.

    Thank you for your work, your words, for vowing never to quit, and for putting yourself in the public eye in this way. To me, this post is an altruistic demonstration of solidarity, and I am strengthened by it. You are much appreciated!


    • Bernard

      Wow Carlton,

      Thank you so much for these words. I think that is the everlasting struggle – that belief that you are in this alone, which is so untrue. And it’s difficult to present yourself “naked” to the world, because you are most vulnerable and we want to portray ourselves as strong, but we aren’t always strong and that’s okay.

      The fact that you and everyone else commented on this post that I wrote to me is incredible. I feel rejuvenated and invigorated and that’s the beauty of laying things bare, out in the open for people to see 🙂

      And regarding the image. The meaning shifts from person to person and that is great. What I intended it to mean doesn’t matter. Take away from it whatever speaks to you. Art is subjective and that’s what makes it so damn amazing.

      Thanks for reading

  8. Yucel

    Love to know more bout how you got all that saturated color and contrast… very grabby image.

    • Bernard

      Hi Yucel,

      Nothing too fancy! Just some curve and color balance layers and dodging and burning. Other than that I don’t think there’s much else to add 🙂

      Thanks for reading

  9. Phil

    Nice little post there Bernard, and great image. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Bernard

      Thanks for reading Phil and for the kind words.. 🙂

  10. Jd Clair

    As a producer/photographer myself, putting all the elements together for a successful shoot is the fuel that drives this engine! The creative aspects for a final output must be incorporated or contained into the mundane tasks such as snacks and scheduling. Each assignment will evolve into more confidence, self esteem, and gratitude for doing what you love! And sometimes it just all goes in your favor. You’ll look back on this as a learning experience, but with integrity, for having the honesty to confront your fears in a public forum. As for the image, it’s compelling, moody, and very much open to interpretation…all nicely framed around my imagination… You’ll do just fine my friend.

  11. Lorna Lovecraft

    What a beautiful photo! Thanks for sharing your story