About this project
It's the last day, and there's still a long way to go!!!! I have five 20x24 prints framed and matted (to about 22.5x26.5) from the show that I am offering as rewards for the next 5 people who pledge $150 (shipping only in the US).
I received an email this morning inquiring about the validity of the project and its goals. I think the questions Katie asked are questions a lot of people have been silently asking as well, so I am sharing here. The scope of this project is so broad it has been difficult for me to define it. Katie's inquiry presented me with a wonderful opportunity to develop my thesis further. The original description of the project can be found below this correspondence:
I’m just wondering. What exactly is the difference between me giving you some money to pay for your world tour with a camera, or me giving hundreds of my dear friends or family money to do the same thing? I would choose my family or friends over an unknown person in this case.
This whole project smacks of you trying to get money for doing nothing more than having a “personal” experience of a lifetime. I’m really happy to fund projects which help communities or people/animals/environments in need, etc, but this request seems like a darn cheek.
Please help me understand what you are giving to the world, except pictures, which honestly I receive so many of, from so many places around the world, and I’m not paying for any of them. Looking forward to your thoughts.
I think the difference is that your friends and family have not taken this on in their life. I could be wrong, because I don’t know them but, do you know anyone in your personal circle who has just quit their job, sold everything that they own, aside from socks, underwear, and a few pairs of jeans, and is getting ready to fly their cats to a foster home and say goodbye to every person they know and love because they believe living life unconventionally and sharing experience is something that we all should be doing more of? If you do, then of course you should be supporting them over me, it only makes sense.
Maybe it is hard for you to see it now, because the project has not truly started yet, it still requires a little imagination on your part, but it is in every way a project that helps communities or people/animals/environments in need. I am going to be walking into these communities, meeting these people, photographing the animals, the environments and telling the stories. I’ll be taking the time every day to show everyone who cares to come along with me. This contribution may seem humble when set next to large organizations raising money for causes, but I am only one person, and I think over time my humble contribution (the experience and perspective of a person going out into the world without a journalist’s agenda of seeking sensationalism, but merely searching for beauty and hoping to understand the different ways in which people live their lives without categorizing them as the “other”) can grow into something extremely noteworthy and important, not only to me, but to the communities or people/animals/environments that have been a part of this journey.
Take a look at the link I’ve attached. http://www.petapixel.com/2010/10/20/photographer-jr-wins-prestigious-ted-prize-for-giant-faces-in-slums/ This young man started out as a street artist from Paris. Slowly what he was doing and his message spread worldwide. The simple act of photographing members of communities, often in ghettos and disenfranchised areas that tourist would not think to visit, and pasting their portraits throughout their own neighborhoods, brought hope and inspiration to their lives on a personal level, and visibility to what is going on in their communities. I believe it is the responsibility of those of us who have the privilege of mobility to move throughout our spaces and take time to know and understand people and places that may be hidden away. We are undeniably interconnected through energy and our collective existence on this planet. I think a revolution of awareness around this energy connection is about to begin. This project is my participation in that.
The money that I am trying to raise is about one fifth of what this project will cost. No one one is paying me to do this. I am taking huge risks with my personal life, of my own volition, because I believe that this story and the stories that will inevitably come are important and need to be told. If you do not see value in that then of course there is no need for you to support it, and I wouldn’t ask it of you. You say that this whole project smacks of me trying to get money for doing nothing more than having a “personal” experience of a lifetime, and I suppose it’s true, but I believe revolution comes from within, we slowly spread our love, evolution, and compassion to the lives that we touch along the way, and they in turn do the same. It’s a slow and simple process, but it is worthy. Thank you for your interest and inquiry in the project. I hope you are happy and healthy, and I encourage you to invest in those causes that you believe need your energy and attention.
Q: So, who are you, what's your project, and why should I care about what you’re doing?
A: I don't know that you should. It would just be nice if you did. The project is a photo essay about my upcoming trip around the world. It will be in blog form initially, but the hope is to turn it into a book. I'm an artist with an AA in Photography, a BFA in Painting and Illustration, and an extensive work history in the Art and Design worlds. There’s a bit about me to be found here http://sonyalouiseworks.blogspot.com/ and my past photo work is here http://gallery.me.com/sonyalouise#100573aid=43168&id=180200878670794
Q: So, what are you doing exactly?
A: Searching for heartbreaking beauty.
Q: What does that mean?
A: I can’t really define it too rigidly. It makes it less magical.
Q: Do you believe in magic?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: Don’t you think that’s a little bit silly?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: So can you give me some sort of explanation for this project that’s not too rigid and maintains its “magical” integrity?
A: I’ll give it a shot; What I hope to do, simply put, is stir something up. I want to instigate a personal paradigm shift so far afield from what I’ve learned to consider “normal” that I’m permanently altered. I’m going to make big, bold, sensational statements for the sake of argument, take them all back later, and then say exactly the opposite. I’m going to pass judgment on myself, and everyone around me, perpetrating wisdom, while not believing a word of it, and then humble myself, only to get all grandiose again. I’m going to say things that don’t make sense and ask that you understand. It's about getting messy, with no apologies. I think it's time we all did. Let's start sharing the imperfections of living and love it. Let's laugh, and get confused, and cry, and give each other hugs, and tell each other "I love you!" Then we can laugh and cry confusedly together while we hold hands and watch each other’s tears sparkle on our smiling faces. How does that sound? Are you with me?
Q: Whoa, whoa, cool it. I’m the one asking the questions here. You sound a little bit like a crazy person. What’s that all about?
A: I suppose I am, or at least a little dizzy after years of tail chasing, which is precisely why the idea for this project came about. It’s not a new story. You’ve heard it on Oprah a million times. You get to a place in life where you’ve been following all the rules, and you’ve got your apartment or house that you’re obligated to sit in because you work that job to pay those bills and drive that car that takes you to work so you can pay those bills, and go sit in your place, and you start asking yourself “What the hell am I doing this for?” OK, maybe you don’t, but I do. I’ve grown weary from the incessant nature of that question. It’s time to make moves.
Q: OK, so what are you going to do about it?
A: I’m going to sacrifice security for the sake of experience and see what life offers up along the way.
Q: So you’re an explorer?
A: Yeah, I guess, in the sense that I’m exploring the human experience through my own lens of perception, and sharing it through the lens of the camera. It's a study spawned through the personal, but also universal, because we're interconnected. This project is a search for beauty, and laughter, and life, that’s so big it shatters your heart into a billion tiny little pieces and blows them to every corner of the universe, spreading so far and wide that it’s impossible for the concept of “me” as something separate from the rest of the world to exist any longer. It’s about being small and gigantic all at the same time.
Q: Talk about melodramatic, dang girl. So what are the parameters you’ve set for this project?
A: I hesitate to define. I want there to be very few limitations. The plan is that there is no plan. That being said, I have to start somewhere, so… To begin with, I sell everything I own. This exploration is largely about shedding the protective skin of comfort zones. I’ll be homeless for the entire journey. In addition to living outside of the comforts and constraints of daily life as we know it, the other organizing principles of this project will be communication, and documentation. Writing and photography are the chosen mediums. I’ll never be without my camera or laptop. Another key ingredient is chance. I’m traveling solo, but desire the unpredictability that relationships inevitably bring to all things, so I’m going to remain open to allowing the agendas of the people who come into my life to help create my path. The plan, for now, is: In April I’ll fly my 2 cats to London where they’ll meet their surrogate mother, Sunnah. I'll stay for a week and kick it with the Brits while the cats assimilate and learn to like Bangers and Mash. Then I’ll get to Moscow where I’ll catch the Trans Siberian Railway to Beijing, making a couple stops along the way in Russia and Mongolia. Then it’s Beijing > South Korea > Japan > Train through China, try to get permits to enter Tibet > Train the north of India, bicycle the south > Sri Lanka > Bicycle / train through all of Southeast Asia > Then possibly spend a minute in Australia and then to Egypt, I think. This is about a year’s worth of traveling, more or less. I figure there's at least another year for the rest of the world. There's Africa and South America still to figure out, and if budget allows I'll work in the more expensive parts of the planet, like Europe and the States. It’s all too big to wrap my brain around at this point. Visas, shots, train schedules, language barriers, and people sending me links to stories about backpackers getting murdered. There are a million things to worry about. I’ll try to just address them all on a need-to-worry-about basis.
Q: You’re going to be traveling for about 2 years? That sounds expensive. How are you paying for this?
A: Well, like I said I’m selling everything, and I’m saving money too. The funds I raise will equal roughly 1/5 of what it will take to move this vision around the globe for 2 years (or more if possible). I've gotten this estimate from going through and totaling up train fares, visa costs, and averages of what you will pay to for daily life in certain places. Also, another person who is doing a similar project, Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Non-Conformity, has estimated his yearly budget at $20,000 to $25,000. I'm working hard at saving, and getting the word out about it. It's been pretty challenging, and I really appreciate all the help I've received. I could not do it alone.<br />
Q: How will you use the money you raise?
A: The budget will go towards all the things you would expect, like purchasing visas, tickets, hostels, and other things like online backup for photos, internet time for posting, and the like. I’ll be updating all along the way and tweaking plans as things move along. You can follow the progress here http://sonyalouise.tumblr.com/ Come along, join me. I promise you'll have fun.
Support this project
- (90 days)