Thoughts on Life and being an Artist


So, what is one of the GREATEST GIFTS you can give yourself as a Photographer?

☆ No…it is not a new fancy expensive camera!

The “greatest” gift you can give yourself as a Photographer is actually FREE! YES, FREE! But, it is a bit difficult to use without the skills to use it.

☆ The Answer: The ability and skill to edit out, and trash, ALL of your Crap-Photos!”

Yes, you read correctly—Your Ability and Willingness to Trash Your Sucky Photos is one of the best photography skills you should give to yourself (learn)!

You are doing yourselves a disservice if you do not learn and stick by this priceless skill of editing your photos like a beast! You will also be doing your part as a Green Photographer, by not polluting the overpopulated country known as InternetPhotoLand, with photo-garbage. Everyone should do their part, but so few seem responsible enough.

So, if you were hoping I was going to say, go out and gift yourself a new camera, no, that’s not the answer to horrible photography.

Here’s what you can do:

1) Learn to take good photographs with whatever equipment you have now. That means, learn the basics, train your eye to see more interesting subjects, learn to compose better in the frame, and learn about lighting.

2) When you are editing your images, be an Editing Beast! If the photo is not in-focus, not composed well, has HORRIBLE lighting, is BORING, and any other number of minus-qualities, then trash it and move along. Editing software can save some poor images, but it is better to start with a pretty good image to begin with, and then tweak it to your desired results.

There are simply too many bad and boring photos out there, so why settle by adding more to that depository. Instead, be a better Photographer….Take better photographs.

So there….

A few of my thoughts on a great gift to give yourself if you are a Photographer.

A Total The Black Dahlia Murder Day so Far! Music Reflections of Mood and Creative Inspiration for Me as a Photographist

It is a total, The Black Dahlia Murder day so far! Music is a Reflection of Mood and a Creative Inspiration for Me as a Photographist—Music is Personal.


I’m not a fan of all Death Metal music. However, there are certain bands that simply have a great creative-chemistry and great musicianship. I know that Death Metal may sound harsh to some people, but to me, if done with professionalism, like The Black Dahlia Murder (TBDM), then the music, for me, is creatively inspirational, and it may in fact, resonate with my mood and help me to be inspired to get my own creative work going.

Brandon Ellis is probably one of the best lead Death Metal guitarists (IMHO). His riffs and solos are excellent, and technical. I agree with one reviewer recently who said that in TBDM songs, Ellis’s solos could end at one point and be Very Good, but he throws in even more to the compositions that lead to extended GREAT solos. He is, in my opinion, one of the Great Contemporary metal guitarists, and a great member to a band of talented musicians. Their music is aggressive and it creates a wonderful punch, like a melodic, driving wall-of-sound.

An Auditory Nudge

I do feel more motivated to get moving on work when given an auditory nudge with the right music for the moment. Sometimes, the right music may be TBDM, NEVERMORE, The Haunted, and very often, I am inspired by VIVALDI, Mozart, or Klein. I love Classical Violin and Cello Concertos—VIVALDI being my Favourite.

So, I am feeling a bit more inspired now to actually get some work done, and that is much better than feeling overwhelmed and sitting and staring at ALL OF THE tasks needing attention.

Wishing you an inspired and creative day!

☆ You can See and Buy my Photographic Artworks at my #Imagekind Sales Gallery, just Click on this Link:

What Music Gets You Going? Have you seriously considered this as a way to help you get more motivated? It may help.

Holy Smokes Batman! Don’t talk to me about Passion and Photography!

Yeah…you heard me right.

Please, Don’t talk to me about Passion and Photography!

How many times have you heard, “Photography is my passion“?

Breathing, is my passion.

Ya’know what…I’m not sure I have a passion.

I know I have a madness, that madness, I think, is that I need to Photograph ‘stuff’ if I have a camera in my hands . I also need to create Abstract Expressionism artwork if I have paper and pens at my ready, and some time to use, to create such “mad” artwork.

Sometimes, I DON’T necessarily want to, or love what I am photographing, but I do it because it seems to just be a part of me, and if I have the tools (camera, some light, etc.), so then, the possibility of discovery is there for me. However, photography is not always good for me, and I think therefore, it is more of madness, rather than a passion. Artwork is something that just happens as a result of the Photography Madness, or, Pen-Art Madness. I knew a long time ago that I have an abstract mind. Abstract for me, is a rather good thing. Thus, not all madness is bad.

For these various reasons, and being rather cynical about things in general, is why I question the millions of times people say, “Photography is my Passion,” “Painting is my Passion,” “Dance is my Passion,” “Singing is my Passion,”….Are you sure?

I’m just sort of tired of hearing “Photography” and “Passion” being used in the same sentence. If you take some extra time to think about it, and be more honest with yourself, maybe your artwork of choice, is actually something other than a passion. Or, maybe it is a passion for real, for you.

New Theme at my other Blog I’m Using More Nowadays – Please Visit and Bookmark my OTHER PHOTO BLOG

Here is the link to my other photography and artwork blog:

I have been having problems adding Media files to this theme at this blog, and I don’t need that added frustration, so I have switched to using my other blog, and it seems to be working much better. 

Thus, if you haven’t already done so, please visit my other BEHIND THE LENS photo-blog, and bookmark, RSS, or whatever you need to do to keep track of it and when I add new content, which is about everyday, or two…

I will NOT totally abandon this blog, but will give it a ‘vacation’ – maybe I have just been working it too hard, and now I will give it a rest.

Thanks so much!

Have been lax in my blog posting …

Hi Friends!

I have been quite lax in my frequency of posting new art photography.  I’m so caught up in ‘attempting’ to design a new Art Photography Profile, that it is bogging me down to all ends of the Earth. 

I hope to do better about keeping up with you all and also adding more blog posts.  Necessity is  forcing me to put together a new CV and Profile because of my cut from the contract work at the Aussie University I had been doing work for 15-years.  Consequently, starting new and fresh at the age of 49, is no easy chore, especially when younger people are also out there looking for opportunities. 

I wish I could survive on my artwork and art photography alone, but it is not possible – no where near possible.  I am not sure what the future holds – it is all oblivious and I just feel like I am in a constant haze of drowsiness and blue funk. Being the owner of Ankylosing Spondylitis makes this task 10 times more difficult for me! 

With these current events and the life I’m surrounded by, is it any wonder that is why most of my new artwork is so hazy, dark, and chaotic – it is my mind at this time.  It is not confusing why my art photography is such, at this time, and if you are close to me, then you already know that I have had trouble, long-term trouble with deep depression and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) – and I battle this with all my will, and through my art I try to exorcise these demons that infest my spirit. 

I hope to get through this with more positive results.  I appreciate my friends here who have given me strength and encouragement to move forward.  It is somewhat appropriate that one of my favourite quotes is from Brooks Jensen:  “Even if you are falling on your face, at least you are moving forward!”  My face does hurt a lot, so maybe subconsciously, I am failing a lot, but at least I am falling forward as I hurt myself.  I just hope I am learning from my many mistakes and just don’t repeat them too many times. 

Wishing you all, my friends, all the best, and please pray for me and help me with encouragement to not give up hope. 

I know there must be some positive change for me sometime, somewhere, in the future.  One thing is sure – as long as I have even a single colour pencil left in my art box, I will continue making and creating my artwork.  That is a promise and a MUST! At least I do find some happiness in designing artwork.

Take care, my friends,


Title:  "TANGLED MESS, EDIT C". Copyright 2014 Nawfal Johnson. All Rights Reserved. Penang, Malaysia.

Copyright 2014 Nawfal Johnson.
All Rights Reserved.
Penang, Malaysia.

Back to some Photography – Seeing Beyond the Surface

I have missed what my blogging friends have been up to for about the last 7-days.

However, I was not on some fantastic holiday – I wish…oh well, let’s get back to some photography.


Title:  "SANDSTONE ON CONCRETE, No1020673, Edit C." Copyright 2014 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved. Penang, Malaysia.

Title: “SANDSTONE ON CONCRETE, No1020673, Edit C.”
Copyright 2014 Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.
Penang, Malaysia.

From time-to-time, I design a photograph that I truly believe fits in my TOP 25 PHOTOS I’VE EVER CREATED List.  I did not think this photograph would be on the list when I took it.  After all, it is just a rock on concrete.  However, when I saw the close-up view of this; and I saw the contrast in light, and texture, and cracky-designs; and how I unconsciously arranged the sandstone and camera so that the thin point of the sandstone pointed toward the lower right-corner; and the repeating texture of the background throughout; and how there is a black & white and a color element in this one photograph; and how the eye directly is brought to the colorful sandstone as it stands out against the rough concrete; and how the long-side of the sandstone magically creates an imaginary diagonal line that goes from the upper left-hand corner, to the bottom right-hand corner.  With all of these things happening in this photograph, it quickly was mentally added to my TOP 25 List.

Some people may just see a rock. Au contraire! I see beauty in the design.

Now…what else…?


COLORED BLOCKS and SHADOWS, Number 2, and Random Thoughts on Human Mortality and the Creative Life

Title:  "COLORED BLOCKS & SHADOWS, Number 2." Genre:  Macro Still Life / Table-Top Still Life. Copyright Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.   Penang, Malaysia.

Title: “COLORED BLOCKS & SHADOWS, Number 2.”
Genre: Macro Still Life / Table-Top Still Life.
Copyright Nawfal Johnson ~ All Rights Reserved.
Penang, Malaysia.


Time on this earth is really very limited.  I think that many people believe that their time on this earth is more than what it really will be.  Therefore, many people have the attitude that they can put things off until later.

I have kind of learned to dislike the non-action statement of, “I’ll do that later.”

What if you DON’T make it until ‘later’?

I think that having a disease of any sort, it sort of causes you to live in a different reality than many other people.  Living with some disease is a very powerful and awakening experience.  It means that you may have to do some things differently than someone who has ‘good health’.   What is ‘good health’?  I have always equated ‘good health’ with NOT having any ailments.  However, ‘good health’ could mean being at complete peace with whom you are – ailments or no ailments.  I need to think about this one more before coming to any conclusions about what ‘good health’ really means.

Health is a topic that sits pretty high on the surface of my mind.  My chronic anterior uveitis (iritis is part of anterior uveitis) has been one such health experience that is fresh on my mind.  Anterior Uveitis is a very difficult and painful reality for many people who suffer (and it is extreme suffering a lot of the time) from Ankylosing Spondylitis.

I never imagined that at a relatively reasonable age (48), I would have some permanent damage to my eyes; nevertheless, that is my new normal – my new reality.  Now I see a lot of clutter…a lot of pigments…a lot of ‘crap’ in my vision, and this has been quite disheartening for me.

I was always so used to having decent eyesight:  clear, crisp, focused, with no obstructions of any sort.  As a photographer, having good eyesight is usually a very necessary thing.  Of course, it is not required necessarily to create good and meaningful images, but it does make life easier.

Seeing crud in my vision has gotten old very quickly.  It is not an enjoyable thing at all.  It is very distracting.  Also, in the sunlight, the refraction off the pigments stuck to my eye’s lens, makes it easier to get eye-headaches.  Going outside in the tropical sun, for me, means having to wear sunglasses all the time.

Do not misunderstand me:  I am very grateful that I did not lose total eyesight in my right eye.  I am very thankful for the eye doctor I have now – my doctor is very amazing.  Let me digress a little and tell you a story about something that happened last Friday.  Last Friday, I thought I had an eye doctor appointment, but I was mistaken.  I went to the hospital, walked into the eye clinic and there were no patients in the waiting area.  I knew that something was very wrong with that picture.  There are normally 50 or more patients waiting to see the eye doctors in the eye clinic.  I got a little nervous:  I began thinking that I screwed up my appointment time, the date, or even the wrong week.  Luckily my eye doctor walked out of a training session she was in at that time, and she said, “Are you here to see me…today?”  She was confused why I was there.  After some checking in the appointment book, we discovered that I was mistaken about my appointment time and date.  Oops.  However, in all the confusion, and even though I did NOT have an appointment at that time, my doctor found an open office that was available, and she said, “Come on…let’s check your eyes.”  She set me in front of the refraction glass microscope, and she spent about 20 minutes with me checking out my eyes.  What an awesome doctor I have! 

  • I am so very grateful that some how, she entered  into my life at this time, during a very difficult time, with my eye disease.  For me, that is a “WOW” circumstance.   

You see, when you face some difficulty on a daily basis, I’ll use myself as an example, with Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Chronic Anterior Uveitis, I believe I think about each day with a bit more…what should I say here without creating some misunderstanding…it is like my thinking becomes filled with more urgency…getting things done brings on a new sort of critical need.  I ask myself very often, 

How can I move forward in a better way, knowing that it is very likely that I will face more pain while doing some task.  Chronic Pain can be a horrible anchor chained to your back.  Chronic Pain challenges you in ways that are different from people who do not suffer from chronic pain.  I equate Chronic Pain with some sort of unwelcome visitor who I wish would just go away…at least for some time.  Despite the physical pain I have, I know that people are counting on me; I have deadlines to meet despite the arthritis I have; I also have creative urges and needs to fulfill a powerful internal creative requirement that I feel I must do with a certain kind of perfectionism.  Despite being ‘Arthritically-Challenged’, the show must go on, so to speak (LOLOL! I don’t think that Arthritically-Challenged is a real word, but I don’t care – it is a real fact for millions of people who suffer from any sort of autoimmune disorder, cancer, disability, or arthritic disease).

If you are any sort of freelance or independent artistic person, then you still must plan, you must create, and you must deal with all sorts of business and creative challenges.  In addition to and because of the disease that we “own” [as one friend told me –  Marina :^)  ], I believe that we were just given an extra responsibility and challenge in our creative lives, to overcome – and in the end, that should make us stronger – in fact, it MUST make us stronger.  Does this make any sense…?

* What contribution should I make today, for myself, my family, and in this universe.  What could I do that would be something meaningful in a grander scale? 

Here I go off in another direction.

I do not like selfish behavior – I do not like the “Kiasu” attitude that is so prevalent today.  “Kiasu is a Hokkien and Singlish word that literally means ‘fear of losing’.” (Source – Wikipedia).  This attitude is a ME-CENTRIC selfish sort of behavior.  People selfishly cutting in line (any line, at the store, while driving, etc), that is one type of Kiasu behavior.  What if instead of thinking of yourself first, that you thought of other people first?  I am not saying that self-preservation is not important, not at all.  What I’m saying is that some people go WAY-OVER the top with selfishness.  What about being helpful to other people?  What would that day look like?  Sure, you should still be thinking of yourself, but not so aggressively, especially when other people get hurt in the process.

By the way, this post has nothing to do with my photograph (above), well, nothing that I can think of at the moment.

As George Carlin said:  “I don’t do transitional work as you can see,” moving right along to the next thought.

And moving right along…I’m very sorry if this post sounds a little depressing, or… I don’t know…I think I’m in a bit of a funk.

I just want to move forward.

I just want to take more risks so I can fall on my face a lot:  I know it will be painful, but at least I’ll be moving forward!

My favorite quote on moving forward is from Brooks Jensen, the founder of LENSWORK Magazine.  He said:  “Even if I’m falling on my face, at least I’m moving forward.”  That thought is very powerful.  To risk, to do, to even be brave enough to look foolish because you did something outside your comfort zone and failed – that means you are falling on your face…that means you are learning and moving forward.  I want to do that more.  I need to do that more.

I need the “right people”…by that, I, as a freelance artist and photographer, need my work to be exposed (pun intended I guess) to art buyers.  Art Buyers are those people who make decisions about whose artwork will be purchased for some purpose.  For an artist to survive, we need to grab the attention of art buyers.

Sometimes, I wonder, “Where the hell are the Art Buyers!?!”  “I am an Art Photographer – I have some interesting work, I think?, HERE ME SCREAMWhat more do I need to do?  Where are you?”  These are quite important questions.  As artists we need to be fulfilled by our creative works – this is something that comes from our creative soul.  However, to be in business, it is a must that we sell our works and our services.  The whole ideal of being in business is to make a profit.  I don’t think any artist really wants to live a  Vincent van Gogh-life – do they?

Reality is…as an artist, we need to find the key that opens ‘artistic’ doors,  and we also need the keys that open opportunities to successfully fulfill our economic needs.  This is not so easy.  I know I need to constantly be productive.  I must always be creating new work and getting it out there into the world, e.g., I MUST PROMOTE my work in all ways possible.  If I don’t shamelessly promote my work, who will?  No one.  I am responsible for creation and promotion.

I think I’m having some sort of crisis…you can just ignore me – it is OK.  I don’t want my crisis to turn into some sort of virus – I don’t want my funk to affect anyone else…please forgive me.  I will dive into my work and I will be fine.

And speaking of “time”… (remember, I don’t do transitional work).

Yeah, sometimes I think about the question, “How much time do I have?”  I would guess that it is a very legitimate question to ask yourself.  Don’t obsess over this question – no, no, no, that’s probably not healthy.  However, to be aware of this question and knowing that your time is limited, is of some value.  We should know that we must do things that are bigger than ourselves…that are bigger than our own desires…things that help other people.

I do believe that our actions are like an echo that sounds out and returns to us:

If you yell out, “I hate you!”  The echo yells back at you, “I hate you!”  If you yell out, “I love you!”  The echo yells back at you, “I love you!”  What you do and put out there does return to you.  Thus, make sure what you put out there is GOOD STUFF!

Well…these are more words than I usual write in a blog post.

I hope that everyone who has stuck with me this far, my friends out there, new and old, I really wish that you have a very fulfilling and creative day.  I wish for you ONLY the BEST in life.  I wish for you that the love you send out into the universe comes back to you.  I am a firm believer in the Newtonian Law – Newton’s Third Law of Motion:

Third law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.

I believe that this law also holds true in how each person exerts a certain force (i.e., attitude, love, positivity, compassion, etc; and this law holds true in the opposite direction, with negative things, hate, negativity,  cruelty, etc.).  Both positive and negative “vibrations” exist.  I guess it is the type of vibration you wish to put out there in the world, which is important.  I know that if I send out good feelings to other people, nearly always, I receive good feelings in return.  I want that…I want more of that in my life.  This makes me feel happy – happier.

I know I’m jumping around here; I believe I am being a bit random in this post.  Oh well, I think my mind is feeling a bit random today.  I better go put some of that randomness-energy into some new artwork.

Take care my friends.