At times in work and also in life I think we all feel a little disheartened or lost, wandering through a garden that can be fruitful and lush and at times, but then, the inevitable storm rolls in, turning the garden dark and cold, or sometimes just making it a muddy mess. I was reminded in the eye of a recent storm that I’m not alone, and neither is anyone else.
I was blessed to grow up around so many strong women, a pin-up grandmother working 3 jobs with 6 kids, another grandmother who, at 90 still cooks and bakes for a whole farm of men, and mostly my mother was always encouraging me to be strong. Still, in the mists of despair, it can be difficult to listen to anything other than the negative voices in my head, echoing harsher than reality’s own whispers. My worst enemy, myself?
I am not one to give up. While inside I carried on in overly dramatic turmoil, I pushed onward because I wouldnt let this negative dark cloud win. I needed something to push me forward with determination. A new challenge to show the doubt it has no place.
I decided to challenge myself with film photography. In addition to my digitals, I recently got a vintage 1960s Leica M4 35mm camera body to go with the vintage lens I already had. The first roll of film came out pretty good for a first try, no light meter, rangefinder, film. Then, I messed up some of my calculations, had a few blonde moments with the shutter speed and got an ok roll back the second time. I was already emotionally down, and disappointed in my new direction, but before I could break out my tiny violin, I realized, film is so special because it is more difficult. There is no guarantee. Its taking a chance with every click of the shutter. The whole roll could be ruined or over exposed, you are limited to the film ISO and the lens, the camera could malfunction, anything can and does go wrong. Even the best photographers only got a few good shots from a roll.
So I realized, life is like film. It’s not like the false pretense of bliss created with the digital modern world. The great shots are so great because they are so difficult and so rare. Se la vie. The best moments of our work are the ones we fight so hard for, and we often fight and lose, but when it happens in that magic moment, it was worth everything. We struggle to get better, to grow, to find a way, to find a perfect piece in a pile of mistakes.
I went for a walk the day before I took these pictures. I found an old abandoned building with some of its windows boarded up, some broken showing glimpses of darkened dusty rooms. From this lonely, forgotten building with its still persistently green lost garden, I found that this is life. You keep growing, even when there it seems abandoned.
These are a few of my film shots. I didnt alter them so they are left in a thinner size ratio than my digitals above.
After I pulled my self out of this funk, I also realized that I am not alone. Think of all the great heroes of history who fought the odds, fought the doubt and changed the world. I hope I can inspire you to know that we all face monsters, but we must fight them, never let them win. We are not alone. For every battle you have waged, another has stood in your same steps. Be brave, find your lost garden.
Laura Okita is a vintage fashion designer, photographer and vintage editorial blogger living in Brooklyn, NY, and model for over 10 years in New York, Europe and Japan. "I am mostly self taught using vintage sewing patterns. I create all my garment patterns and sew all my designs. I specialize in luxury fabrics and hand beading and embroidery, and occasionally create my own prints for fabrics. I take most of my own pictures and videos, working in both film and digital. As a model, I always try to bring the clothing to life. Every garment has its own story that it wants to tell. When I step into a dress, I step into being that girl."