I’m supposed to write an essay for DEDPXL every month. Which is really freaking cool, because I love Meg and Zack and the whole DEDPXL utopia, and I’m hugely honored to get to share my stories and musings and… blah blah blah.

But here it is, nearing the end of August, and this month’s essay is a steaming pile of shit. It’s full of touching metaphors and five-star adjectives, and it sucks. It makes no sense, not even to me. And I wrote the damn thing.

And last night I kept asking myself, “What the fuck, Self? Why can’t you just WRITE SOMETHING? (But, you know, something REALLY GOOD.)”

Then I had a scotch and went to bed. And when I woke up this morning, I knew what was wrong.

I’m a failure.

I’m a failure because I’m not even a real writer. I’m just some asshole with a keyboard who started typing stuff one day and someone shared it on Facebook.

I’m a failure because I’m a hack of a photographer. I hate technical specs. I kinda understand the One Light. I mostly get how pixels work. I shoot with a 6D because I think the Mark III is a rip-off and who needs a sync port anyway?

I’m a failure because I’m a terrible business person. You know, I have NEVER made a single estimated tax payment? EVER. Every single year I pay all my taxes in one big lump sum that practically drains my savings and leaves me pale and twitching in a corner.

I’m a failure because I haven’t cleaned my bathroom in a month, my fingernails look like a kindergartener painted them, and my desk is buried under a pile of mail in which I just uncovered a party invitation for one of my dear friends and I missed it. Also: I’ve been leaving my house in a pair of huge, men’s work pants I got at the thrift store.

But the really crazy thing is that, if I’m perfectly honest, I don’t care. Not like, “I don’t care about anything anymore” I-don’t-care, but like… I know it’s gonna be okay.

My experience of life so far is that sometimes it’s bad. And sometimes it’s pretty good. And then sometimes it sucks REALLY hard. And then other times it’s magnificent.

Unfortunately, when I’m in a “blah” spell, I can’t seem to see my way out of it.

I’ll sit at my desk for HOURS
accomplishing nothing of any significance, just beating myself up for being so terrible at everything.


You know those times, right? When you have so much to do you want to cry, but somehow you’re not getting ANY of it done? When every single portrait you make looks like a blob of flesh-toned goo wearing denim sprinkles? When every blog post is alphabet soup on your screen?

So I did the counter-intuitive thing this morning, and, before I could even think about sitting down at my desk, I called my best friend. “I’m coming over,” I told her. And I drove my little electric car over to her house and held her tiny three-week-old baby for a solid two hours.

And you know what Adeline didn’t do? She didn’t say, “Put me down, you have an obscene amount of editing to do!” She didn’t gasp in horror at my latest essay attempt. She didn’t cry in disgust because my “almost finished” new website has been almost finished for half a year now and good grief woman would you please just get your act together?!?

No, Adeline just lay there in my arms, squeaking little baby squeaks and being a person.

And that’s it, right there. The only thing any of us can do. BE.

Be in the good and the bad. Be in the muck and the magnificence. Be happy and sad. Be frustrated and fulfilled.

Be human.

I don’t always make great pictures. But I will always be a photographer, every damn second of every damn day, because I have a camera and I’m not going to stop trying. And some days, trying means putting down your camera and just having a beer.

I don’t always write something worth reading, but I will always be a writer, because I have a pen and a keyboard and I’ll bleed before I give up. And sometimes, not giving up looks like a big fat middle finger right at your computer screen.

Because we can’t indefinitely strive for bigger and better. We just can’t. We burn out and we lose motivation and we need to stop and eat lunch and exercise is pretty good for you, too.

But being means you’re in it, for better and for worse. Being means it’s okay, even when it’s not. Being means you’re a failure, and you’re a roaring success, all in one fragile skin.

Right now? I’m being ridiculous, dejectedly eating dry Cookie Crisp because I’m too pitiful to go to the store for more milk.

But that’s okay. Tomorrow, next week, eventually: I’ll be amazing again.

Anne Simone

Anne is a lifelong photographer and accidental writer from Atlanta, Georgia. She prefers whiskey over wine, cheese over chocolate, and flat shoes over heels — because you never know when you might need to run for your life.

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  1. SasaCroatia

    Dunno what to say to be honest, but this post invites me to say something..I got married a year and a half ago, got a kid 7 months ago. We live in house with my mom, I got a Hyundai i20 (so small town car), shoot 60D and a couple of lenses and 430 EX II. My wife recently bought me a x100 (she probably can’t stand me crying about all the time 😀 ).
    I hate not being able to afford 6D (which I want badly – I want that damn full frame sensor), hate not being able to afford 70-200 f2.8 version 1 as I shoot a lot of sports, hate not being able to afford Pocket Wizard Plus III’s/TT5’s. I hate I cannot afford to buy a couple of more flashes and/or Einstein.
    I go to bed every night thinking I cannot afford to say all I want to my boss because my wife lost her job and we gotta pay the bills…
    And then you wake up in the morning – hating your live because you have to be coorporate sell-out, want to quit badly…
    but then I look at my greatest accomplishement…I look at my beautiful daughter…And then I suddenly understand – I’m not a poor bastard…Me and my wife – we are wealthiest people on this earth, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure a good life for my family! then I realize – I’m not a failure 🙂
    I love my life 🙂

    • Faisal Khatib

      Scary how similar that is from what I’m going through. Got married a year and half ago and got a 7 month old daughter. Got all the equipment I need but it’s just catching dust…. because my daughter is special and she needs me 24/7. I’ve almost given up on being a freelance photographer and turned myself into a stay at home dad. The wife is chugging along as a photographer at a publishing house. It’s infuriating cause I feel it should be the other way round. But there isn’t a choice since her income is stable and medical bills are pilling on. But in the end all of that doesn’t matter cause I can make my little baby girl laugh… something that the doctors never saw coming. And for that I’m grateful. 🙂

      • Mike


        It sounds like you’ve got an interesting photo project right in front of you.

  2. Sheldon Evans

    This is freaking fantastic! I have nothing more to say than this is probably the best thing I’ll read all week.

  3. Lindsey

    I love this & needed this today! I have these thoughts all the dang time! Thanks!

  4. jarWoodson

    Well put, Lady! Eating dry Ramen out of the bag under your desk at the cubicle farm doesn’t mean you’re pathetically incapable of boiling water, it means you’re plotting a new macro project exposing what lurks in the dark corners of everyone’s workspaces (I found a 25-year old M&M and a floppy disk in mine). I used to write for and found myself in the same predicament several times. Usually, my best work came from just sitting down and just “being.” Cheers, JW

  5. Axel Widjojo

    Man, I know the feeling. I sincerely thank you for writing this.

  6. Dave

    I’m glad I’m not the only one! I’ve got about 3,000 images to go through and I’ve been putting if off and off…

    Kinda expanding on what you’re saying, I get family/friends who say “Wow, you’re a photoshop GOD!!!” (i’m paraphrasing of course. Honestly, compared to someone who does it day in and day out, I’m just OK.) “You must be sooooo talented! I wish I were that good at photoshop”.

    I’ve come to realize that I’m not really talented, I’m just persistent.

    I set a goal and I figure out how to do it. I go to phlearn, virbrant shot, youtube and just don’t give up until I’ve got something that looks good.

    This also applies to my photography. I just keep practicing. I see something I like that someone else has done and I try to duplicate it. Then I make it my own. If they only knew how many pictures I’ve had to take to get that awesome shot! Not only immediately, but also in the years leading up to that image…

  7. Amanda Dobbs

    This is a fine reminder that even on the days when we creative freelancers are despondent, unproductive, and eating dry Cookie Crisp — perhaps especially those days — we are not alone. Thanks, Anne!

  8. Scott Talbot

    You’re so much better at putting my life into words, than I am!?! 🙂

  9. Otto Rascon

    Thanks Anne, sounds like you’ve struck a nerve. Thanks for being honest, helps me to realize we’re all in the fight of sucking and being awesome all at once. I’m going through an awesome streak at the moment, but my sucky phase lasted quite some time. Just show up and keep moving, never letting the dust settle. Thank you.

  10. Jonathan

    Love this.

    Allowing ourselves just to ‘be’ is so important.

    After all, we are human beings NOT human doings. 🙂

  11. Amy

    Your sentiment reminded me of a song I heard this week. Sometimes it’s as simple as just getting up. Get through it. Go to bed. Repeat. Love the sentiment of this song, too…along the lines of just…do. And be. And do. And be. Ha!

    Good luck.

  12. Jim Robertson

    That is a f*#k-tastic image of dry Cookie Crisps! A small photographic victory of the day if I ever did see one. The image is inspiration alone. The essay makes me feel closer to a larger community. Thanks!

  13. Jessenia Gonzalez

    This sums up my the past month of my existence and my wonderful (chaotic) morning where nothing seems to add up until it suddenly does and like magic, the world starts to spin again in a manner you can grasp. Keep on, keepin’ on.

  14. jamie

    mmm. i feel you. but not sure that the less noise more signal ethos of DEDPXL is advanced by this message.

    • Zack

      I disagree. It’s an honest topic of discussion to have. Honest discussions are rarely noise.

      And just to let you know. Anne submitted her post last week and it had really good bones to it but it needed to be flushed out so she went back to the drawing / writing board. Came back with a really solid business topic that we were going to run with this week and sometime this weekend she evidently said “Fuck that” and made this post which is better than the other two. I’m glad Anne went with this. I know the other two are going to get flushed out and will make their way here soon enough.

      All that to say… Contributors (of which we now have two!) here have free reign to talk about anything but if I feel it isn’t quite hitting the point then I send it back until it’s ready to go. If there is too much noise then it isn’t going to go on this blog.


      • Giovanni Maggiora

        Zack you not only are are great inspirational photographer but it seems here that you are a heck of a great editor too. “Forcing” Anne into this corner and then publishing this piece here is a brilliant thing you’ve done.

        And Anne, you are a great writer, just in case you need to “be” something other than a photographer fom time to time.

        Kudos to both!

      • Andrew K.

        I’m glad you gave that level headed reply, Zack, very cool of you. In some ways this post reminded me of the Young Zack Arias who made that wonderful, heartfelt video with his FlipCam or whatever those were called, where you started with the hilarious intro about photoshop tips and segued into that now classic piece.

        It’s hard being a photographer because it’s so solitary in many ways, and the rejection is so personal. And yes, when the weather is bad, like Sid C says below, it’s depressing. (If he’s Sid Caeser I’m Carl Reiner.) And you wonder why you’ll never see like Dan Winters or wear cool white shirts like Art Streiber or name-anyone-else.

        And sometimes that funk can last days, and sometimes it can last weeks or more.

        But you have to just do it, just do it everyday. At the risk of beating a not-yet-dead horse, there’s that famous quote by Chuck Close: Inspiration is for amateurs. Just. go. do. it.

        Another great photography quote that has no place in this post, from the late Arnold Newman (check your wikipedia, kids!) — Photography is 1% inspiration, and 99% moving furniture. Man, I love that.

        I’ve been doing this for close to 40 years now. It doesn’t change. Somehow I’ve survived, but man oh man have there been some tough times mentally. (not SO much financially, as I managed to do this and nothing else)

        Carry on Anne. And you too, Zack.


        Oh, by the way, I NEVER wore makeup, not once!

        • Elena

          Apparently your name IS Carl Reiner, as Sid C posted a new blog post today!

        • Sid Ceaser

          Heya Carl! How ya doing!?

          You can thank my parents for naming me Sid. Thank god they didn’t name me Julius. Also, my last name is spelled different. The vowels are mixed around.

    • Jeff

      I agree. This sort of stuff shows up hundreds of times a week, all over the web, followed by a gaggle of “yeah me too” comments.

      All good, keep it up, but it looks like I may not be the intended target audience for DEDPXL.

      • Zack

        @Jeff – Stick with us here. We’re still in our infancy.


      • Anne Almasy

        I appreciate the feedback, everyone!

        Jeff and Jamie in particular, I’d really love to hear from the two of you (and others who share your opinion) on a couple of issues.

        1. What DO you find valuable? What DO you want to read about? I’m still testing the waters and learning how to connect with the DEDPXL community. I genuinely welcome any and all suggestions for content! For now, I’m so grateful to have connected with others who share my values, struggles, hopes, and dreams. I’ve found a warm community here at DEDPXL, and I’m excited to see it grow!

        2. It’s pretty exciting that you’re both in places in your careers where you’re not really struggling with feelings of failure, and don’t need validation and inspiration. Sadly, I’m not there yet, but it is my DREAM! I would love to believe that I will one day create and share without anxiety or frustration. Maybe this is something that evolves naturally over many decades in the industry; or maybe there are specific methods I can use to move myself in that direction. Either way, I think our community as a whole would benefit greatly from people like you sharing your approach and giving insight into how you reached this place in your creative life. I know I would! Please! Tell us your ways! 🙂

        Again, I sincerely appreciate your participation! It’s an honor to be here!

    • Anne Almasy

      Check out my reply to you and Jeff below! (I’m not sure if you’ll see it otherwise, since it’s buried pretty deeply in this thread!)

  15. shana

    oooh gooood, how often I ate dry cookie crisps..
    nice essay about everyday life.

  16. Sid Ceaser (@sidceaser)

    Best. Childhood. Breakfast. EVAR.

    A whole bowl of chocolate chip cookies? C’mon. No brainer. Every parent in the world is obligated to hate them.

    This post hits home pretty close. I get that dredging feeling pretty often.

    Monday? I’m a failure. It’s raining out? Yep, I’m a failure. It’s 6pm and I’m still in the studio and not at home being a loving husband? Failure. Oh, it’s getting to be the Winter season? Here comes three months of absolute petrifying, terrifying feeling a failure. My head wasn’t really in today’s head shot session? Failure.

    It goes on and on and on.

    But I know I’m not. I know *we’re* not. It’s good to have these checks and balances so that we don’t go around being arrogant all the time. I know some of those guys, and trust me, someday, they’ll hit bottom pretty hard and won’t know how to climb out of it.


  17. jeremy solesbee

    I’ve never eaten cookie crisp WITH milk. And I once ate a whole box on a bus ride from Kosovo to Albania because I didn’t realise they weren’t stopping for lunch.

  18. Iain

    “…sometimes, not giving up looks like a big fat middle finger right at your computer screen.”

    Made me involuntarily hurl spittle at my screen.

  19. Josh

    Nail on the head.

  20. Dale Peters

    This is why I love this site so much. It’s just honest! Like no other

  21. David Taranza

    you nearly made me cry. Reading your post I realized that maybe sometimes I try too hard to be a photographer and there are also other things in life that deserve more of my attention. Thank you. For your honesty. For you not being afraid to write a post like that. Thank you so much.


    Been there; currently residing there. Summer’s effectively “over” which means I’m soon to be locked inside; living in the glow of tungsten, for next dark and cold 6 (?) Wisconsin months.

    This year I’ve gotta’ get out and catch “peak color”( fall leaf change) my pointless cliche’ nature box has been empty for a few years. outside portraiture/weddings get put on hold. Until “ice out”.

    Just diggin’ my fujis and playing with/”testing” m:4/3.

    Got a beautiful new(first) granddaughter only 100 miles away.

    Life rolls on.Thanks for the honesty. we all share these feelings.

  23. Larry

    You are already perfect. Nothing about you needs to be changed. But I find it fascinating that a person as beautiful as you finds it necessary to use curse words to express herself. To me they are a distraction. Like a booger on a brides nose. But that judgment is for me, not you. I only offer it so that you might see its reflection in someone else.

    • Anne Almasy

      Aw, I hate that you were offended, Larry! Personally, I prefer people who curse – HA! But I totally respect your distaste for it. In this instance, since I was writing about a very personal experience, it felt authentic to include the words just as I thought them. I promise never to be someone I’m not. 🙂

      • Larry

        I appologize. I wasn’t clear. I am not offended. I simply thought you were looking for some feedback on your post. I understand, and respect your commitment to authenticity. I enjoyed reading your post and I respect and admire your photography.

  24. Richard Wintle

    *wild applause*

    Forget about August’s essay, I’ll happily take this post instead, and thank you. I recognize so much of myself here… and I’m going to make an executive decision and agree with you that “that’s ok”.

  25. Steve Graham

    It’s funny. I read Sid’s post and then Anne’s post here and thought to myself, “Wow, Zach has really chosen contributors that are right in line with his way of thinking.”

    Then I read the comments.

    Apparently, not everyone agrees with my assessment and it really surprises me. And it surprises me that it surprises me. Not much does, really. But perspectives are wide and varied and is another reminder that it is impossible, and undesired, to have complete agreement about everything. The world functions on conflict, and personal growth is born out of it.

    As far as the article goes, I am printing this and tacking it up somewhere close. From my own perspective, what Zach offers are opportunities for personal growth and this post communicates the basest fundamental idea that prepares you for that growth: It is okay to fail. That you WILL fail. It’s an integral part of the process.

    And knowing all this doesn’t make it any easier. At all. What it does, for me, is confirm that I am, indeed, sane.

    Here’s to hoping that one day my work will not suck (to me.)

    • Anne Almasy

      I think people get testy when their perspectives aren’t supported. I know I do. It’s okay if someone feels that they’ve moved far, far beyond the need to vent or accept encouragement. But I know I’m not there. And I hope that if I ever do reach that place, I will have grace for the people who are still on their journey. We’re all in this together. 🙂

  26. John

    My brilliance is severely hampered by my stupidity

  27. A girl

    Thank you for being honest. In a world where it seems everyone around me is doing super awesome and super cool and super creative – I am most definitely in that rut of self despair/failure. Where the depression flares up. I hate every photo I take. I feel like a big old failure at everything. And it’s hard to remember that there will be good days. Not many would be as brave to write it – but I thank you. It made me cry. And feel a bit of relief that I’m not the only one that doesn’t always have their life together.

  28. RickB

    What a breath of fresh air. Finally someone who writes the way I think.

    I lived my middle and late teens on a farm. Loved it. I learned a very important lesson from the barnyard. If you walk through it, work in it you’re going to step in shit almost daily. That just comes with the territory. The secret is to wipe it off when you’re finished. If you let it build up and dry it becomes much more difficult to get it off. Maybe impossible. Everybody steps in shit going through life. The key is to wipe it off as soon as possible.

    • Anne Almasy

      This is one of my favorite analogies ever. Thank you. 🙂

  29. Alex

    Thank you for this great essay 🙂 I so much enjoyed reading it!!

  30. Keziah

    How come you don’t have a page on facebook? I like your posts. :))

  31. Christopher

    Sometimes, one person can speak for thousands. I’ve been shooting professionally for over two decades. One day, I feel like I’ve earned my reputation as a good photographer. The next, I’m wondering how I continue to miss details that I see later during the edit. One day, the praise is heaped on. The next, you’re made to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. This week, the checks arrived for paid invoices. Next week, there’s nothing on the calendar. The entire ride has been a roller coaster. Do I keep going? Or do I finally say “Enough” and look for something else? Ultimately, it’s what I love. What else would I do? Just as holding a baby provides some perspective, my boys have said that they like telling their friends “my dad’s a photographer.” And, if they like some of my personal work enough to hang on the walls in their bedrooms, why should I be so stressed about what anybody else thinks? “Forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead”.

    • Anne Almasy

      As long as I love this, I will keep doing it. The day I find I truly, deeply loathe this work, I will stop. I’m certain I could make better money doing something else. It’s the loving it that keeps me coming back.

  32. Brilliant Bill

    “We’re failing…but nicely.” -Monsignor Michael Doyle, Camden, NJ.

  33. Vickie

    THANK YOU for writing that! Why is it always so refreshing to read something so raw and messy and honest? I love it and I need to learn to write that way. Be that way. Thank you again – it was a breath of fresh air and very encouraging.

  34. Juan Lamus

    sweet read it complemented my black coffee, I am just too lazy to go the bodega and get creamer or milk..