There’s no denying it. It’s summer, and even though I’ve previously made my not-so-positive opinion about this time of year very clear, there’s also a nice familiarity to it. The city empties out, the streets get quieter, everything sort of slows down and descends into this lazy-paced slumber. Well, not for me, of course, since my work - or my search of same - never really ceases, but still. On a Brooklyn Sunday like today, where the temperatures are actually bearable and there’s a light breeze blowing through my open windows as I write this - life is pretty good.
My social media platforms are filled with the ecstacy of vacation-ready folks, all headed toward airports or onto highways, eagerly anticipating escaping the daily grind for a moment or two. True to form I’m not going anywhere, and when asked “any plans for the summer?” my default answer is the same as it has been for the past many many years: A shrug of the shoulders and a “nah - nothing special, I have some work or else I’ll maybe head out on an impromptu day-trip or something”. I get how his can sound really sad and Cinderella-esque, but before reaching for the tissues, hear me out for a moment. Truth is, I haven’t been on vacation, as in truly off from work, since 2010, which was also when I took my last leisure trip, a long weekend in Stockholm. Since then I have spent all my free time either preparing my move to NYC, working non-stop to maintain myself here, or going on work-related trips. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Sometimes it hits me for a split second, though, that it would be nice to take a vacation. However, my brain immediately starts grinding up all the stories I could create while there, and the people I should surely hook up with in order to stock pile photography for immediate or later use. I get more excited about the work I could do, than about the vacationing I should do.
While most people find the utmostest joy in relaxing somewhere pool-/ocean-/lakeside with an umbrella-adorned drink in hand, doing absolutely nothing, that was never my thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Heck, sometimes I even wish that was in my genetic makeup, but it’s not. In fact, I can’t possibly sit still and do nothing for much longer than an hour before I get bored out of my wits.
Sure, work is demanding and stressful, exhausting even, at times, but the urge to just drop it all and get away from it for a while never really presents itself. I guess that’s the essence of fundamentally loving what you do. And I’m not blind to the fact of just how big a privilege that is.
When you’re not a master within the art of doing nothing, idle times can be hard. I need to create, build, constantly move forward, which is why living in NYC is so awesome. I’ve sung this City’s praise before, and will surely do it again, but it’s an ongoing mind-boggle how this place just seems to steer you onto the path that you need to go, even if you had no idea that that was in fact what you needed. And that’s how I got involved with the creation of Sumac Magazine, an upcoming quarterly about food & memories, and the people and stories that connect us via food.
As in what I dare to believe is the case of many a creative endeavor, it all started with “a friend of a friend” who had an idea, and “do you want to be part”?
So there we were, a journalist from Turkey, a graphic designer/illustrator, and a photographer, both from Denmark. Each of us proficient within our respective fields, highly creative, but with zero clue whatsoever about how to actually transform a bunch of ideas and turn them into something tangible. Luckily, via the channels of network and friendship, we were joint by the fourth member of the group, someone with the professional background, knowledge, and organizational skills to wrangle three creatives, and get us from A to B… And hopefully to C, D, and beyond.
It’s an intersting study to see the group dynamics that so quickly manifest themselves when putting four individuals together, all with the common goal of creating something from nothing. Each of us have our own skill sets that we’ve honed throughout the years as professionals, and we are equally eager to put those qualities to good use and leave our own unique footprint in the sandbox. We each want to make sure that our personalities and individual talents are represented in the core, the backbone, if you will, of the product that will ultimately be presented to the world. For my part, I’m extremely protective of what my name is associated with and how my identity as a photographer is being portrayed, and everyone else also have their little idiosyncrasies, something which could so very easily spell disaster. But it doesn’t. On the contrary, actually. In stead, we manage to utilize what we individually do best, but also respectfully weed out the things that do not make sense in terms of the greater purpose of the magazine.
It’s challenging for me personally to understand the business side of things, and I feel that if I miss out on the simplest little detail, I’m losing perspective of the bigger picture. I’ll ask the same question over and over again, probably driving everyone crazy, but it’s not because I enjoy being annoying. It’s simply just how my brain works. If I feel I’m missing a piece of the puzzle, the whole things crumbles. Littlerally, I’ll involuntarily visualize a house of cards or a wall coming down, bricks flying all over the place. Being part of this process is teaching me to (gradually) let go of that need for control. It’s not easy, but the cool, calm, and competence of my co-creators are invaluable, and their enthusiastic personalities are inspiring. And most importantly, we respect each other’s areas of expertise, and trust one another to make the decisions applying to this. Divide and conquer, and everything will be that much more efficient.
I’m not proud to admit it but in all honesty, I would not have been able to do this, to work this closely with others, two years ago. NYC has taught me a lot about humility, and my arrogance has taken quite a few hits along the way. But like I said, things come to us when we’re ready for them, and I couldn’t be happier to be part of creating this magazine alongside this group of bad-ass gentlemen. I’m continually excited to learn from them, and impressed to see how easy it is for us to ultimately agree on things, on the larger scale. We share the same vision and sense of aesthetics, which is pretty fortunate, considering how many industrious people this City can muster. Even though I’m generally reluctant to use such terms, some might even call it meant to be.
Head over to Sumac’s Instagram to get a sense of what we’re up to, and please feel free to check my social channels for news and updates.