What Boat Do You Need To Burn?

March 9, 2012 , , Carina Thornton
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Another interesting question from Danielle LaPorte‘s “The Burning Question” series. After a lot of thought, I find that my answer doesn’t differ much from Danielle’s.

“I’m burning the boat that carried me to here in my career. She was a damn sturdy vessel.”

I was introduced to photography at an age considered late by some – around 16. Before that I knew I enjoyed the arts – painting, drawing, music and dance – but it wasn’t until I picked up a camera, a few dozen rolls of film and spent hours upon hours in my small darkroom that it really hit me that *this* was what I wanted to do. I jumped in head first (meaning that at 16, I photographed events for my high school and became the Photo Editor of my high school yearbook) and set my sights on The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. I still have my acceptance letter.

But things took at turn when I was approaching 20. I didn’t have the confidence that I needed to fight through the competitive market that was the New York art and advertising scene in the 80’s. So I took a step back and picked up a job in an industrial photography role of a manufacturing company “just for a year” while I sorted out where I wanted to point my creative endeavors. The year turned to 5, then 10… the photographic aspect went away to be replaced by computer automation. I adapted. I learned computer programming, then a bit of process engineering. The camera collected dust, the portfolio remained unseen. 23 years went by. Twenty. Three. 

Then something clicked. I started seeing the world like I used to – as a series of images, details, and moments instead of one big, blurred, quickly moving picture. I picked up a camera again… and had no idea what to do with this digital thing that seemed to make a lot of my decisions for me! My eye was rusty. I barely remembered the relationship between depth-of-field and f/stop. My tech skills for the digital darkroom were non-existent but it didn’t matter. I snapped away for months, then a year, then 2. And found where I wanted to be.

I’m so tempted to say that 20 years had been wasted but that would be unfair. I learned a lot – about myself, about business, about service, about how to make and keep friends. I grew up there. It brought me here and I miss it but I’m ready to move forward. To be here with all of *you* now. Whatever odd path I took, I want and need to be here – so without regret I can burn the boat that finally reached the destination.

~ Carina



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