Day 163 - 172 International Climber's Festival

Lander, Wyoming

Another small, sleepy town but home to the NOLS training center and the International Climber's Festival. The town is full of great sport and traditional climbing as well as a great wealth of bouldering. Surprisingly enough, there's enough young blood within the downtown sector of Lander that there's modern and contemporary design, high quality artisanship at the Lander Bake Shop, and delicious food at the Lander Bar.

Though, a cowboy town by all appearances, there's free camping in the city park and a city library with work-capable wifi. On rest days, I find myself holed up in the library with The RV Project working on electronic deliverables and hanging around the town. A good amount of the Lander Bar employees live in the park due to their mobile climbing situation and there's never a short supply of climbers. So if you're looking for a job and a wealth of climbing and you're not crazy, apply and have free rent.

Since our arrival, a lot of career developments have happened as well as making lots of new friends. Things that I didn't think would possibly take place for another year are happening now. Just the week before, I thought meeting Aaron Huey, a National Geographic Fellow Photographer, was going to be a big deal; turns out building genuine friendships by being honest and sharing your life story goes even further.

To keep my findings of the International Climber's Festival short and simple, I'd like to thank Hayden Kennedy, Alex Johnson, Ethan Pringle, Kevin Wilkinson, Alli Rainey, Katie-Ann Hetrick, The RV Project, the International Climber's Festival and Rock & Ice for giving me the opportunity to share my craft, and all those who've been so supportive. I hope just a few of the photos I've quickly selected will give you an apt and concise summation of how the event went! If these photos aren't enough for you, Rock & Ice will have an online gallery featuring my photos from the event!

As the dust settles from the festival and with the completion of my job during the event, I have some free time to discuss universal matters of the creative generation of the 21st Century. I want to discuss about perseverance, fear, doubt, and hard work; and how all four can work in conjunction with each other. While this might seem out of pocket, I figured there's no better way for me to work these things out in words. Personally, fear, doubt, perseverance, and hard work are simply, a symbiotic relationship we all deal with.

Keeping these four variables in check by feeding one of the two positives against the contra-current-negative generates the fuel I need to keep going. As a creative, I'm sure there are moments when you're starting a project, you're overwhelmed by waves of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm can go well into the middle phases of said project, but as you near completion, you might end up with something that isn't quite what you imagined, and you either let the fear stop you from continuing or the doubt begins to build up to an overwhelming point you question all of your pursuits. And no matter how I cut the pie or do things differently to avoid these feelings, they're part of my internal constitution (you are your own harshest critic).

My father, one of if not the biggest inspiration in my life, told me a story about when he first graduated and received his Professional Engineer's license. The story entailed how hard and long it took him to land his first job. It was the 80s, there's no email and stamps and envelopes reign king. He sent over 500 resumes to no avail. He did all of this besides the fact he came from the most destitute and impoverished situation as an immigrant from a third-world country. If he had gotten defeated by his rejections, he'd still be without a job, so the only solution is to continue. He made me realize that in this life, there's only two things you don't have time for, excuses and bullshit.

Over time, I've realized how to apply that lesson to my creative endeavors; the first is to continue to work through your lack-luster phases and the second is to recognize your demons and respond to them with perseverance and hard work. I like to think of it as, "running the marathon of life, it's not over until you're dead so you better keep up the pace." The more time you spend dwelling on how things aren't going right for you, the more you end up doing nothing, and idle hands make for the devil's work.

The only reason why I'm writing this is because, at the start of this trip, I hadn't photographed anything in over six months. I stopped working commercial-freelance in Los Angeles and I wasn't submitting to any galleries. I was sitting around, content to rest on my laurels, and playing an obscene amount of World of Warcraft. So, I hopped in my brother's truck to be on the road indefinitely with no goal other than to start photographing again. Six months later, I've established a working relationship with the two largest climbing companies in the world, I've two online articles for Rock & Ice, my brother and I are sufficiently sponsored to the point where our climbing gear is covered, I'm providing my services for brands I stand behind, and I have the feeling of open-door opportunities in front of me. Now, every time an opportunity arises, I have to step-up to the plate and aim for the fences. Whatever you do, don't stop doing it, you'll never know where you might end up.

I am not a success story, but I think my story is just beginning. As I move forward each day, I am neither delusional or pessimistic. I simply exist to continue my creative processes in the efforts that other people always receive some sort of positive reaction when viewing my work.