Having Not Gone Farther: On Regret & Creativity

In Most Popular, News & Stuff, The Craft, The Italian Incident, The Life Creative by David79 Comments

I regret very few things in life, if by “regret” we mean the desire to undo the past, to have done things differently.  I don’t regret loving with a full heart when my brain was nothing but red flags, and that same heart later fell broken at my feet for having taken the chance. I don’t regret the missteps I have made, even the one that got me to where I am in this moment, writing with my feet up in my office, or rather, my foot. The other, my residual limb, bandaged and buzzing with phantom pain, sits mismatched beside it. Surely if I were to regret anything it is that. But I don’t. Neither do I regret the creative risks I have taken, some of them costly, nor the hundreds of thousands of images I’ve made in my life that are now on the cutting room floor; they were the price of getting to the good stuff.

Yoda said, “There is no try, there is only do or do not.” Respectfully, Yoda is a muppet and he’s full of crap. There is plenty of try in this life and not all of it goes to plan the first time. Or even ever. But it is the trying from which we learn. The risk. The failure.

We are all becoming the people we are, not only because of the victories (may they be many) but the failures.

I don’t necessarily celebrate them—they represent loss and some of them represent great pain—but they do make us who we are. They carve the contours of our souls that make us the individuals we are. To regret these things is to wish away the tools of our own becoming. Becoming more averse to our own comfort, more suspicious of the notion of safety, more resilient, and more sensitive to the pain and loss of others as they too become who they are. And become more ourselves.

We are made by the things we do, not the things we do not do.

My father once told me, hot on the heels of a diabetes diagnosis when I was 21,  “Your problem is you let circumstances beat you.” As hurtful and insensitive as that was, he wasn’t wrong. His words alerted me to the possibility that I could push back against my circumstances, could make something from them. I didn’t see it this way then, but I’ve come to see that these circumstances, even the ones I bring upon myself, are raw materials in the creation of the person I am becoming. I’ve come to see that as the most important part of a creative life: creating the artist. Not regretting what has happened to me or even the things I have done, but using them. They are both the raw materials and the tools of our shaping. I like the man that I’ve become and I wish my father could know him now. I think he’d be proud. To regret all these rough patches and the truly painful missteps would be to wish away that man in favour of someone with smoother edges and no story to tell, a different and less interesting person making less interesting photographs.

What I have regretted are the things I have not done. Conversations with the dying reveal this to be all too common: it’s not so much that we wish at the end of our lives to undo this or that, but to have another crack at what was left undone, untried. To say what was left unsaid, to have another chance at love that was never explored. To be the people that we knew ourselves to be, and could have been more fully, were we not so held back by fear. I think when we’re dying we probably see so much more clearly (and realized so heart-breakingly late) how truly trivial some of the things we feared really were.

I am, I hope, a long way from my last days, but I do regret not peering around more corners in unfamiliar places, and I regret the times I stopped just shy of the limits of my comfort zone, when to go further would have taken me to experiences I couldn’t have possibly imagined at the time. I regret having not gone farther. Deeper. I regret not engaging in conversation with people leading lives differently than I do, people who have scared me. I’m getting better at that. Creatively, I regret the photographs I didn’t take. And it’s not even the iconic stuff, but the photographs of people no longer alive and moments that are now fading in my memory. Memories I’d give anything to revisit.

We regret what we have not done more than what we have done because there’s no way back from it when time runs out. It’s a loss. A loss of possibility and of the one chance to have lived on our terms. To do something—to (forgive me Yoda) just f*cking try—means there’s the possibility of something more. Even to try and be met with colossal failure, at least there’s a possibility of a do-over. A chance to learn, to become the person who can eventually do that thing.

To try is full of possibility. To not try is to court regret and surrender the hope that other possibilities exist, that we can create something great, if not from our first efforts, then from the wreckage of those first efforts. 

I am mistakenly considered to write about photography. It’s an easy misunderstanding. I talk about being sensitive to the quality of moments, of considering the importance of changing perspective and point of view, of making choices to amplify the emotion of things, and of being present and awake to the million intersections of light, space, and time while the shutter is open and receptive to the light. It would be a missed opportunity to look at these ideas only through the lens of making 2-dimensional photographs when the bigger possibility is making our lives more intentional and lived as fully and in as many dimensions as possible.

I want to take a moment to thank and update everyone who has been so supportive and generous since I announced the amputation of my foot. It was a decision made knowing there was a better chance I would one day regret not having done it, not having taken the chance and swung for the bleachers. I don’t know if it was courage or if it was a question of being more afraid of what would happen—and the increasingly limited life I would have to live—if I didn’t do it. Right now I’m doing well, though the phantom pain is not to be trifled with. It’s just really unpleasant, often incredibly painful. Like relentless shocks of electricity, little stabby zappy f*ckers all over the foot I no longer have. They keep me up at night.

Here’s the metaphor I’m currently working with: it’s like my brain is calling my foot. But my foot isn’t there so it keeps calling and calling and, getting no answer, it leaves an increasingly hostile series of angry voice messages. It just goes on and on and it’s hard to concentrate for any length of time, though I have found if I workout, or do my yoga, or get into flow while I’m writing as I am now, they subside some. Perhaps my brain is so busy looking for the right words that it stops looking for my foot.

On Tuesday the stitches come out and on Friday my prosthetics team will take a mold of my residual limb, and before the end of the month I should be partially weight-bearing on my first temporary prosthetic leg and foot. If that’s not miraculous I don’t know what is. Thank you for the endless encouragement, and to those of you who purchased my monographs, I owe you a special debt of gratitude.

Within the year, after we’ve worked out the bugs, I will be walking around on a prosthesis that you have helped me create. You will be part of every footstep, and every new adventure, and I have no words for that kindness. 

For the Love of the Photograph,

P.S. If you haven’t purchased my series of new monographs and desktop wallpapers, you can do so here and pay whatever you would like for them.

P.P.S. If you’re wondering if these articles are going to be all amputation all the time from now on, I promise they won’t. What I’ve written for you has always been connected to the here and now and right now this is my very present reality. But it won’t be for long and before you know it I’ll be back to telling you what f/stop to use and which tripod to buy.😉 You know me better than that. I wanted to write something this week that was more photographically helpful, but, well, I was stumped for ideas. Ha! Get it? Stumped…? It’s ok to laugh about this, my friend.


  1. Just reread the 18 June, and Yoda is indeed full of crap – there are wiser muppets with bigger hearts. Here’s many thanks for sharing your experiences in the way of human-to-human.

    Glad you will continue to write on things that are not f-stops or bokeh.

    Here’s to your prosthetic expertise in future, as well as sharing your spirit when you feel moved to do so.

  2. Good read, but you lost me at “Respectfully, Yoda is a muppet and he’s full of crap.” One should never dis a muppet. Muppets are awesome.

  3. Dear David,
    Most of us came here initially because of photography but we stay because of the human being, the human communicator, you are.
    I thank you for years of laughs, human story and even photography tips.
    I usually don’t write comments but will today.
    In your post script you wanted to re-assure us the next writings won’t be just about the amputation but will include photography. Write away, David, however the words come out and about whatever subject. I would rather see you be true to your process. When you are honest and personal we always learn something. It’s in your very nature to connect creativity to even amputation. Whatever your process, trust it. That would be my hope and wish. It’s not a time to squeeze yourself into some f-stop expectation. Photography is great, yes, but I’m here because of your honest writing. Wishing you the very best. And praying your discomfort decreases every day.

    1. Hi David,
      Kathy echos my seniments. Your journey as a creator is because of who you are as a human being, and every experience you have is part of your vision and imagery. I am grateful you shared your amputation with us. I look forward to hearing about how you navigate with your new norm. Photography is a physically demanding profession and so many of us resonate with physical limitations. you have been an inspiration to me in my own recovery from a terrible accident. Wishing you all the best in your healing journey

  4. Well, I have just read all three of your recent “amputation” emails at a single sitting, and bless you, you have left me smiling, and even chuckling. My heartfelt sympathy for the phantom pain. I hope that your brain gets the address update ASAP.

    Thank you for calling out Yoda on “there is no try”. What on earth was Lukas thinking when he put those words in Yoda’s mouth?!?

    I have allowed myself time for only one of your monographs today. I’ve just spent a very happy time with a drink and your Catchlights monograph. The smiles through-out more than repaid me for cost of the download.

    Have you ever noticed how the differences between faces fall away when people smile fully and openly. Not that they look identical, but with a smile their faces share so much more than they do not.

    Thanks …

  5. I’m late to the party this week but great post. I’ve always thought of your insights as relating to so much more than photography, and I sorely miss A Beautiful Anarchy podcast (thinly veiled hint?). It’s wonderful to read that you will be fitted so soon. Here’s hoping your brain stops drunk-dialing your foot soon as well. Best wishes for continued excellent progress, David.

  6. Oh David. My heart goes out to you. I’ve only recently caught up on my emails and read about your amputation. It knocked me for 6. You are such a generous man with your time, your knowledge and your passion for photography. You have the ability to connect with your followers in such a direct and human way, you make us all feel like your friends. So for you to go through something as catastrophic as having an amputation, everyone wants to reach out and help, give something back to the man who gives so much. I will donate to those monographs and from Suffolk in England I’m sending you good wishes and love for a speedy recovery on that new prosthesis of yours. Your dad would be very proud of you ❤️

  7. David,
    Your stories and your pictures have become an inspiration and still drive me to improve my own work. Thank you for that and thanks for sharing your personal story as well!
    Of course I got the bundle, but unfortunately, I messed up to download everything. Whenever somebody finds the time, I would really appreciate if you could drop the link or send me this email I also haven’t signed up for.
    Absolutely no rush and my apologies for the additional work.
    My very best regards!

  8. In this latest you say something of owing a debt of gratitude to those of us who have supported you by buying your monographs….. No David, no debt, if anything we owe you for illustrating and enlightening life particularly over your choice of amputation ! You are the one who has created the want to support you, so yes, thanks and love in both directions, but no debt ! Thank you for what you do and how you do it, please continue to feel deeply supported and appreciated, for you surey are ! – Rob

  9. David, you have been the primary creative inspiration to me for many years. We’ve never met, but I’m a friend of Peter Jowett of Antigonish and it’s told that you drank MY share.
    To contribute to your having both feet firmly planted, I would like to send your monographs to another Antigonish photographer who needs a large dose of your encouragement.

    I would appreciate if one of your colleagues would tell me how to contribute from here (now Gatineau,QC) and to direct the file to her in Antigonish.

    Best wishes and earnest prayers in the firm belief that they have never done harm to any one .

    A Peggy’s Cove Rock survivour.

  10. Dear David, l am a longtime fan of yours and have taken all your amazing courses. I read yr first post and saw how many heartwarming messages of love and encouragement you received. I thought you probably didn’t need another one so l didn’t add to them. But now l have just read your post about regret and l sense that you are deeply sad. I would like to say that l think you are a very brave human being and the way you are tackling this is full on and just what we expect from you. Sending lots of love and big enveloping hugs from Turkey.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all of us here. I think these sorts of decisions and life events so often happen “behind the curtain” and we’re left to wonder “what’s happening in there?”, especially when the person has any sort of following. While it has been hard to read about your decisions and the events that led to them, I admire your courage and vulnerability to speak openly and frankly with us all about them. It helps connect us with the human that you are, and for that, we are, I think, all better for it. Best wishes for a continued speedy recovery!

  12. Your essays have not been about amputation, at least that’s not how I’m seeing them. They are about loss and coping with the loss and accepting that things will get better. I know from experience that not talking about abilities we lose doesn’t help the loss any. When we do talk about it, even briefly, some people start to roll their eyes a little or say some sort of platitude because they don’t know what else to say.

    We share a mental quirk (as some would call it) that we accept what’s happened because the “before” was painful and debilitating. That part is over, now it’s time to move forward. We don’t dwell, at least not for long. We’ll look back wistfully and then realize how much pain we were in and now we’re not. My parents used to call it mental fortitude. I’m not sure what it’s called now. Bad shit happens and we can either resolve to fix what we can and move forward or wallow. I don’t think you are a wallower.

    Keep us posted. It’s helpful in ways you may not even realize.

  13. Howdy there. Thanks for sending this post along for me to read. Yes, it took me awhile to get to it. Paying work sometimes keeps me busy.

    You wrote: “I am mistakenly considered to write about photography.” This is one of those rare sentences that miss me. I don’t understand what you mean by this sentence. I think I need to return to that paragraph and read it again. I might need to read it a couple times more.

    Again, you wrote: “Respectfully, Yoda is a muppet and he’s full of crap.” I did laugh out loud. You’re right, Yoda is a muppet. And maybe he’s full of crap. Furthermore, you don’t misquote him. That is what he said.

    And I think you’re using this as a device to make the point that we should “try new things.” I would argue that we should “do new things.” I think you would agree with that, but I am curious.

    I don’t care for the word “try” when it is used in the sense of less than full effort. There is nothing wrong with “trying” in this sense even if it is dilletentism if the “tryer” knows they are giving less than full effort. There are lots of things I’ve tried in this sense just to get some idea of what it is about. But when my kids would tell me (when they were young — all adults now) “I’m trying…” and it was something important, I’d often ask them “are you giving this your best effort?”

    I was really asking them if whatever it was they were “trying” was important. If so, then were they giving their best effort? It was my way of pushing them gently to *give* their best effort.

    I would argue that this is Yoda’s point. He was telling young Luke to gird his loins and do what needed to be done. Yoda knew Luke had it in him to do it. He also knew that if Luke did not succeed his training would fail. In the context of the story, failure was not an option and was part of Luke’s hero’s journey.

    I will never produce the kind of photographs that will draw great attention. I was attracted to the craft decades ago when Dad let me use his Argus C3. That led me down a path of 35mm cameras, lenses of various sorts,, and a lot of time and money spent making photographs and film processing. I make photographs of things I find interesting just because they look interesting to me. I share with friends and family on IG and FB because they like them. I continue learning about the craft and doing things. But being a great photographer is not in me. It is not my gift.

    There are those following you, though, that I think have a gift. And I would argue that they should be *doing* and not trying in the sense that Yoda meant. They are the ones I would be asking “is this your best effort?” I would be asking questions intended to lead them to expand their vision or technique in the best way I could see, even if they are already beyond my skill and comprehension.

    I think this is what you intend. I’m right there with you encouraging those that have a gift to use it, develop it, and do great photography.

    I would also state that it took great courage to make your decision to have your foot removed. That courage is manifested in all the second-guessing you went through, yet you stayed the course with faith that you would arrive at a better place… a place that would free you to do what you want to do, or at least do it more effectively.

    It also took great courage to expose that decision to a horde of strangers who might react in all kinds of cruel ways. I can say that I was a little shocked at first, but then saw the wisdom in the path you chose.

    Well done sir! Thank you for bringing me along for the ride, for showing me the path through your thoughts as you worked this out for yourself. Thanks for sharing your love and passion for photography as well as that for life. I have learned from you and appreciate your gift.

  14. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. You might like it and then you can do it again tomorrow.
    Your posts are always thoughtful and worth reading no matter the subject.
    I wish you well.

  15. To be honest, I have gotten more inspiration from these “amputation” posts than any so far.. because real life and creativity seem to go hand in hand. Its real and raw and makes creativity relevant. And thank you so much for confronting that rediculous Yoda quote. That was more encouraging than you know. I think you are correct.. fear would probably be the biggest regret of all, when it is all said and done. Even now, I regret times I have given into fear that caused me NOT to try. And after reading your post, I feel less inclined to regret my missteps and supposed failures. I needed this so much. Thank you!

  16. Dear David
    I have read each one of your emails with such gratitude and appreciation. Not for the necessity of you losing your foot—far from it—but for the space you create by talking about real stuff and hard yards. This is such a gift and however you came by it (or not) it’s a precious thing that inspires imitation. Viz—if DDC can communicate this way, be it in words or pictures or both, then I can too! A gizillion thank you’s and even more health and strength and joy and words and pictures ahead to you too!

  17. Hi David,

    at the time you sent your first email regarding the surgery, I was travelling in Italy. When I was boarding a boat in Venice, I stood behind a guy with a leg prosthesis. Which made me think of you. “In a couple of weeks or months, David will be able to do the same again – here in the city he loves and everywhere.”

    The recent post (the one I am commenting on) reminded me of a the “scarf” episode of the “beautiful anarchy” podcast. You are associating the scarves with risks taken. To which I can reply that while my body is full of scarves, not an single one of them is associated with any risk I took in my life. In other words, not taking risks won’t get you to any safe place.

    With my best wishes and the hope to meet you in person one day,

  18. David,
    Your intense, soul-searing essays are so astonishing to me—I keep thinking of more people to share these posts with. But somehow the theme of amputee has constellated in my life right now, as such pearls may grow from such a passionate matrix.

    I am currently reading “Balancing Heaven and Earth,” which is the equally intense and internal autobiography of the great Jungian analyst and author Robert Johnson. I have read his books all my life and never knew he was an amputee until now. He tells that story, but his really theme is the way what he calls the Slender Threads have mysteriously shaped his life.


    Then this morning, I checked in on the semifinals of America’s Got Talent 2023 and saw this truly astonishing dance performance by a young amputee emphasizing the themes of trust and vulnerability:

    My heart and mind are with you in grace at this re-entry passage into your new life.

  19. Dearest David,
    I have been at a loss for words since you first told us about your ‘one step at a time’ experience. I will let the words of Maya Angelou speak for me and to your courage:
    “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
    You inspire me in all aspects of photography and now in all facets of life.

  20. Thanks for keeping us updated on your post surgical course. Sorry to hear you have so much phantom limb pain. It is hard to imagine what that must be like. I have no doubt you will persevere through this because you are so clear on your decision to choose amputation as the best course of care to give you the best chance to continue doing what you love. Certainly a good motivator even though there will be tough times. Hope all goes well with the removal of stitches and the beginning to work with your prosthesis team. Enjoyed your post about regret and creativity. It is always best to try regardless the outcome and to learn from the outcome in the process!!! I know that if I don’t try something I will never know what could have been!!! Carry on, David, one day at a time. Eager to hear about your first steps when you take them!

  21. Continued thanks for your updates and per usual your very salient perspectives. We remain the beneficiaries of your experiences, points of view (no photographic pun intended), and the inspiring way you express and share your outlook.

    What has always been information shared with us which inspires has been brought up a notch (or more) considering your present experience.

    Best of luck, David.

  22. Hello David,
    So happy to hear that you are progressing according to plan, admittedly a hard row to hoe.

    Just finished reading your post about regret. It’s something I have been giving a lot of thought lately. I will be 72 next month, time really does fly by! I have begun a personal project I’ve titled “100 Weeks”. It’s all about advancing those things that are truly important to me and letting go of those things that aren’t meaningful any longer. I can be quite the procrastinator and the hope is that this project will help me focus. I grew up at time when women were expected to marry and tend to a family, and not much more. Sometimes I think of myself as a modern Renaissance woman. I can bake you a loaf of bread, knit you a sweater and do your tax return. (My profession was as a CPA.) When I think about the places I’ve traveled and some of the things I have done, it’s hard to believe that it’s actually my life.

    My camera is my ticket to adventure. It has taken me to places I would probably otherwise never have gone. I love the photos, but they really are secondary. I was in Churchill at the same time as you, to photograph polar bears. Knowing you were out there, somewhere, made me very happy.

    Continue taking good care of yourself. It really is one day at a time.

  23. Hallo David
    I could not believe that you started writing so soon after your amputation and still with the same sense of humor and insight. It serves as an inspiration to all of us who are privileged to follow you. I just want to know when you propelled yourself into the future to go sky diving? Jokes aside, I just know you will get there again. Here is a challenge: In South Africa we manufacture “velskoene”. It originated more than a century ago when the pioneers made their own shoes from hide. They come in all the colors of the rainbow. We look forward to you paying us a visit and selecting a pair. They are made for walking.
    Best wishes for your rehabilitation.

  24. Cheering you on from the sidelines. You’ve got this! You continue to inspire in new ways every day.

  25. Good Morning David – you’re not only a world class photographer, comedian, and a good person but you’re also a wonderful philosopher. You are spot on about our successes, failures and decisions that make us who we are today. Guess my only regret is not using the people and negotiating skills I have developed in commercial real estate does not seem to carry over to my photography. Still hold back (fear) from asking people for their permission to take a photo of them or something in their yard. Go figure. That you for sharing through your blog and your books. you make a difference.

    Hope that phantom pain goes away soon and you can focus on walking with out pain again. Jim

  26. Hi David

    I haven’t been in touch as I just didn’t know what to say and I’m known for coming out with stupid instead. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, especially in the last 3 days when my wife was rushed to hospital with a suspected serious migraine that turned out to be a stroke. I’ve spent the whole time by her side and slept in a makeshift single bed. It’s been a lot like safari camping – being woken every couple of hours by strange sounds and the soft beeps that come from machines throughout the ward start to sound like the cooing of doves in the African day. Added to that you just don’t know what’s around the corner.
    Enforced slowing down like this does help focus on the important and not just the daily grind of getting the photos taken, edited and out the door. I wish I’d brought a camera as I’ve seen so many great moments that they become just like a fishing trip, the ones that got away get better and better with time.
    I’ve survived Africa half a dozen times, returned from Venice in 1 piece, twice, but I still have no idea what to say to a respected friend who (whom? I can never get that one right) I’ve only met once, and has opted to have his foot amputated. They just don’t teach you that kind of thing at school. Can’t ignore it like it hasn’t happened, can’t fully grasp the reality as it hasn’t happened to me.
    I’m starting to waffle and talk stupid like I was afraid of. Take care and I hope to be able to buy you another martini one day. Terry.

  27. I salute you and applaud your philosphical attitude, you have made a huge decision and you will move forward and not look back and regret it. At 71 I have found that I do not regret the things I ‘ve done, or bought, I only regret what has been left undone.
    As we say in South Africa ‘sterkte’ , which literally translates as ‘strongs’, a wish for strength in adversity. You will go from strength to strength because you have the right attitude.

  28. Your sense of humor is still intact! That is a beautiful thing. I for one love your “story telling”. It’s relatable, true to life and who you are. Whether it be photography or the newest “kick-ass” prosthetic! May you be kicking butt soon and stomping those F-Stops all the way back there on the trail. Life is what we make it… even after horrendous mishaps and losses, we become something better or worse. The choice is ours to make. May those phantom twangs and zaps be kicked to the curb soon.

  29. David,
    I have always appreciated your writing style over the years, with its thought provoking insights and practical applications to how we approach our photographic journeys. I love that there is a cerebral side to photography that with introspection we might find the way to bring emotion into our work.
    Currently, your very personal approach to what you are enduring right now has been moving, funny at times, and very inspirational. The playback of your first night in the hospital after the surgery, was hilarious!! I know it was anything but funny while it was happening, but your story telling around it was great. I had only been vaguely aware of phantom pain and am appalled that I had no understanding of how debilitating it can be. I need to do some research to learn more about it and to see what treatments are available out there.
    I join the others in encouraging you to be positive in your thoughts and efforts toward recovery.

  30. David, I found you through your amazing book “Starting Ugly”, and now I am keeping up with your saga regarding your foot. You have given me courage because a couple months ago, I was told by my dentist that one of my front teeth needed to be pulled and I would need an implant. Well, I started visibly shaking in my chair. It has been a huge mountain for me to get over and accept, and here I am the night before the implant appointment. Your story has helped me have courage and I thank you for that. Best wishes as you get closer to your new foot and a healthy life!

  31. David,

    Thank you for being such a consistent and thoughtful inspiration and presence in my journey to become a better photographer for more than 10 years now. You have made a difference! One day I will try to more fully express my thoughts about how you have helped me, but for now let me simply say, Thank-you!

    Good luck and best wishes for the next steps in recovering from the amputation and getting your mobility back.


  32. David, you are an inspiration for me. I was diagnosed with a lung disease (Pulmonary Fibrosis) in 2018. It has progressed to the stage where I cannot walk more than a few metres without being breathless. I’m now on supplemental oxygen. A friend and I started a photography group (in Brisbane, Australia) back in 2010 and I was organising shoots right up to this year. I organised shoots last year where I could take photos without moving very far from my car. Now someone else is organising and I find it difficult to go to shoots without a mobility device which I’m now organising for myself. I have always loved your approach to photography and your unstinting optimism. While my photography has gone in a different direction to yours, the underlying thought processes which you present through your writings, and the two of your books which I have bought, have always given me inspiration and food for thought. Your ability to express the thoughts and feelings that each of us has is so beneficial to us. Just when I could be feeling very down about my lot in life, along comes your words about your journey with your amputation. Don’t feel bad about spending time talking about it, your thoughts are just as inspirational. Photographers lives aren’t all about photography. Each of us carry some sort of issue with which we are grappling on a day to day basis. Whether these issues are physical, medical, emotional or any other form, your words help. Thank you.

  33. Hi David,
    I meant to write after seeing your last post but never managed to so your latest post prompted me to send you a note despite not having ever met you in person… As a professional photographer (also from Ottawa), I have followed you for a long time and admired how you built your career by sharing so much about the why behind photography (vs just the how-to). I still remember hearing about your accident and your long road to recovery, not realizing I would go down a similar path myself after being struck by a car as a pedestrian almost 10 years ago. During my own long and painful recovery, I remember wondering if amputation (my knee was shattered) would be easier. In the end, I’ve recovered better than I would have imagined at the time (though not 100%) but remember meeting someone with the same injury as me who ended up getting his leg amputated after a bone infection just wouldn’t clear up. He was so positive about it and really began to thrive again as he was very active before and was able to get back to so many things he couldn’t while in a lot of pain. I hope you will find that this decision will give you a new lease on life despite how utterly terrifying it must be to make a decision there is no coming back from. I hope the phantom pains are temporary and they make you a really cool bionic foot. All the best!

  34. So many blessings and so much love to you David. Your courage, positiveness and your interest in trying has always been an inspiration to me. I really appreciate that you’re sharing this part of your life w/ us. One of the things I’ve always loved about your photographic writing is that it’s also about life. There are very few who can do both.

    I’m sure you’re getting loads of advice and don’t want to be one more, but I have to ask if you’ve experienced Osteopathy? If not, it could help get your body into the best alignment for the prosthesis. I just discovered it almost a year ago. I used to have a serious limp from the pain of osteoarthritis in my knee and doctors were starting to talk about a knee replacement. Seeing an osteopath regularly has me walking normally most of the time! :O I went for back/neck issues – this was the last thing I expected. 🙂 Didn’t feel right not to share this in case it could make a difference in your healing, functioning and life.

    I agree about trying. Keep on trying. Wishing you better than optimal healing and freedom from phantom pain. So much love

  35. I’ve been reading your exploration of your decision to choose amputation and your journey through the aftermath and have been intending to write, but wanted to explore your 3 monographs and the wallpaper first. I was able to do that today. As has been true for all the years I’ve followed your work, the photographs are stunning and more importantly so deep and meaningful that I fall into them. I’m a 76-year-old amateur photographer (have been shooting since my teens) and I’ll never get to Africa or India but I can feel close to those places because of your photographs. I appreciate your honesty and transparency in your recent posts as well as those that have come over many years. I treasure your insights. You’re not just one of my favorite photographers but especially one of my favorite people. I wish you so much healing and happiness as you work through this time. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  36. Hi David
    I hope that this comment does not come too late for you. Recently I saw an article on the web that speaks to your phantom pain. Unfortunately I did not save it as I did not have a need. Since you are greatly bothered I would look into it. Basically the message is that if the nerves and muscles are so connected as to be in opposition as they were before the amputation the phantom pain is much reduced or eliminated entirely. If I remember correctly the work was done at Walter Reed on Iraqi War veterans. I hope you get back on your feet soon.

  37. Thanks for sharing your story and best to you in the future days.

  38. Well done, David! I always enjoy reading your posts, and enjoyed listening to you when you came to the City of Winchester, UK. The last few posts were very revealing and I can certainly empathise, having watched a close friend go through the same experience (and I though amputations only happened in the 18th Century British Navy!). I learn something each time and also feel I know you better, so please keep writing!

  39. You are an true inspiration, not just in the incredible moments you capture through the lens, but the way you share your craft. You are beyond inspirational with how you made the decision to amputate your foot, in order to move forward. This latest post is so very poignant. I have always said that we regret the things we didn’t do, and I struggled with the words from the “wise” Yoda- “there is no try”, and I agree… it is all about “try”, and through that to learn and grown from successes and failures, is a prime key of life.

    Thank you for sharing your self with us David! And I look forward to hearing about your continued journey as you move down the road. 🙏

  40. You are an true inspiration, not just in the incredible moments you capture through the lens, but the way you share your craft. You are beyond inspirational with how you made the decision to amputate your foot, in order to move forward. This latest post is so very poignant. I have always said that we regret the things we didn’t do, and I struggled with the words from the “wise” Yoda- “there is no try”, and I agree… it is all about “try”, and through that to learn and grown from successes and failures, is a prime key of life.

    Thank you for sharing your self with us David! And I look forward to hearing about your continued journey as you move down the road. 🙏

  41. Thank you David,
    By your honest and open sharing of the depths of your human experience, you are touching more hearts and more lives than you will ever know.
    You’ve touched mine, deeply, giving me hope and reaffirming my faith in the strength and depth of the human heart and the loving connections that will get us through.
    Keep writing to us David, give your brain something else to look for, eliminate those old neural pathways… ASAP!

  42. You wrote, “I wanted to write something this week that was more photographically helpful, but, well, I was stumped for ideas. Ha! Get it? Stumped…? It’s ok to laugh about this, my friend.”
    Made me laugh. Thanks for that bit of comic relief. I so appreciate you sharing your saga, and find your insights to be very edifying. Hang in there, and know that you are in my prayers, and many others’ prayers as well.

  43. Hi there David, I was really shocked to hear about you having to lose your foot. Immediately I was struck by the thought how hard it would be for you not to be able to go to remote places to take photos anymore.
    It made me think about what this would mean for me. Traveling is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. A pleasure I don’t take for granted, but maybe I should appreciate even more how lucky I am. Thank you for making me realise that, David.
    I really hope that your prosthesis will give you all the mobility you’ll need to keep on doing what you’re so good at: taking incredible beautiful photographs.

    Through the years you taught me a lot through your emails, which resulted in me taking much better photos than I used to. I’m very grateful for that.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery & keeping my fingers crossed that everything turns out as you hoped for,

    with extremely kind regards

  44. David,
    I have been a follower for only a short time, referred by another follower/disciple. Your post today is so very moving, and so true. It brought me to tears. Your writing is truly beautiful, full of truths and I will carry your thoughts/words with me going forward. I may just print it to hang on the mirror. You are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing your pain and your experiences; it makes us all richer for having read your story in your own words. You are more than a photographer; you are a philosopher and a beautiful writer.

  45. Thanks for this uplifting piece during your time of life changing adjustment.
    Best of luck.

  46. I’ve “tuned in late” because I’ve been ignoring most of my emails – Too much going on here! That said, all I can say is that I was completely dumbfounded and speechless when I read your last 2 posts…. You are certainly a braver soul than I and I wish you the best and a speedy recovery! In calmer times, you are one of my favorites…. I will keep you in prayer.

  47. Mr. duChemin,

    I have been an avid fan and follower of your work since I first found Craft & Vision and downloaded scores of e-books. The quality, integrity and heart of your work reflect the values I have wanted to emulate as a nature photographer.

    Thank you for openly and honestly sharing your current journey. I believe all adversity offers us the opportunity to not only know and understand “what we’re made of” and “who we are at our core,” but also the opportunity to use our experiences to inspire and encourage others.

    You always have been a trailblazer. What trails will you now blaze on behalf of photographers of diverse physical abilities? What impossible will you turn into possible?

    Thank you in advance for your courage, tenacity, continued craft and vision! May you find wisdom, peace, light, and joy on your journey.

  48. David, it sounds as if you are doing about as well as can be expected if not better. For that I am thankful. You have inspired me for years, through you newsletters, blogs, books and podcasts. (I do miss those podcasts.). I can not imagine the difficulty in your decision. My husband, who is older than I, by a considerable bit, taught me long ago that regret was wasted energy. Use the energy to move forward. And to just glance back occasionally to learn from the past not focus on it. Thank you for reminding me of this. I wish I could help in some way, but I can’t other than wishing you well. However, as far as phantom pain goes, Google mirror therapy. It might be helpful. Warmest wishes. Janet

  49. David. My apologies – I haven’t been following closely so this news was shocking to say the least! Jane and I and Bradley will keep you and Cynthia in our prayers in these coming weeks as you go through such a difficult recovery. We, and Graeme too, always remember you fondly and I’m happy to have followed your creative journey, if only in a small way over the last few years.

    I downloaded your monographs although the payment page only allowed me to choose the $20 option. I suppose I could just keep purchasing it over and over again to send you a bit more support unless there’s a suggestion you have to make it easier to make a donation , Don’t worry about replying for now as I’m sure your energy is in short supply.

    We share many cherished memories and I would love to connect sometime in the future when we both have time and capacity. Graeme was married last summer and Bradley, this coming week on Friday, so there is much joy and celebration in our lives. Many other stories to tell once we reconnect sometime. Thank you for sharing your life with us through your emails and blog. And I know this message was more personal than blog oriented but you did indicate your preference for blog comments rather than email at this time Rest well, my friend.

  50. As is not at all uncommon, David, you have provided inspiration for others from your own adversity. Thank you for these thoughts and I hope Tuesday and Friday bring what you would wish for.

  51. Thank you for your candid writing about your amputation. It is a life changer and you will find a way to be more creative as time goes by. I am so appreciative of you “keeping on keeping on”. In fact, there is no stopping point, as long as the brain functions! We are so afraid of failure! But, like a child, we fall down time and time again and GET UP, dust ourselves off, and try all over again!

  52. David,
    I thoroughly enjoy reading your works and appreciate the sensitivity and thoughtfulness of your writing. Thank you for sharing your soul and your journey with us.
    May your recovery be speedy!

  53. “Regrets? I have a few, but then again too few to mention”. Lyrics, and nevertheless true. We all have regrets. What’s important from my perspective is what we learn from them. Don’t apologize for what you are writing about. It’s from the heart and soul. And that makes it more profound. Sharing feelings takes courage. Sharing your insights into your journey gives us strength and hope. I’m happy to know that you are doing well, and making progress. Thank you for allowing us to be a small part of your journey. Wishing you and yours a wonderful life.

  54. As we age, I find that we regret, and sometimes it is too late to “fix” the things we most regret. I find your writings help in photography and in life.

    An experience such as yours, helps to identify so many things, and the regrets that we have, well you have identified many of yours and you will take many if them head on, and meet so many more in the years ahead. You have helped us to identify our fears and hopefully we will all attack new experiences with a bit more courage.

    What a community you have created, I hope one day to sit down and coffee with you.
    Your journey inspires me, it inspires so many of us. LOve to you and your family. Most of all, thank you so much so very much for sharing what must be a very difficult and lonely journey at times.

  55. David,
    Thank you for another wonderful news letter and best wishes for a successful recovery.

  56. `Thank you for sharing your brave and incredible journey. I wish you the best recovery adapting to your new foot that will carry you onward.

  57. David, as you travel this path I want to thank you for your generosity and vulnerability in your sharing. True to your philosophy regarding life and photography that you have written about over the years, you are steady….you “walk the talk” ( a little pun noted). As you go forward—hard decisions made, painful follow through accomplished, now hard and painful work of recovery ahead— I believe your trueness to yourself and willingness to share it with others will be one strong tool for recovery. I, along with the community you have built, am with you.

  58. Amazing journey and inspiring insights. Thank you for sharing this with us. May you have all the resources you need to heal well and continue to see life for the beautiful, painful, wonderful gift that it is.

  59. What crazy twists and turns our lives take. … I’m blown away that you can write anything at all, let alone something so rich and full as this post. Amazing. As is the saga of how you have rocked and rolled through your life.

    I first came across your writing with The Soul of the Camera in 2018. That book would reawaken me as a photographer, get me to dust off a first-generation Micro Four Thirds camera, start taking photography classes at a nearby art center and develop the circle of art-making friends I now surround myself with. Being an artist is the me who emerged as I “retired” … more like resurrected .. my life.

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was surprised at how I’ve been more alive since the diagnosis. The radiation and hormone treatments I’m getting are pretty mild, all things considered. My docs have been telling me that “something else will kill me” … likely in 15 years… A long time and a short time. Something WILL kill me at an unknowable time. Time to double down on the things that matter and let go of more of those that don’t.

    Odd that photography has become, become again, something that is important to me. The act of making a photograph, the act of carrying a camera, of paying close attention to what I see in the world and what I see in created images, mine and others. What is this ephemeral thing we do with light and technology? That feels so alive? That is part of my being alive!!

    Thanks for being in the world, for how you’ve enriched my life.

    All the best as you navigate this current round of being in a body. Healing is a multi-layered thing with ebbs and flows.
    Virtual hugs

  60. Hello David and thank you for being the person that you are. I love. reading your newsletter. And I love your photographs. Reading your story gives me lots of hope and trust in people. I visit Sweden every summer and just after my arrival this year, my Mom fell very badly in her apartment and got a fractured hip. Plus plus… Your story brings both me and her great hope, and she is doing fantastic progress. I know you will too, and I hope your pain will soon give up and you will be better. Many thanks and hugs.

  61. Thank you for sharing your journey with us – all of it! I especially like your take on regret – to not regret the things we’ve done as they make us who we are, but to take a closer look at the things we will regret not doing. Brilliant and a fabulous reminder for all of us. Many thanks and may your brain stop talking to your missing foot!! xoxox

  62. David, you are truly an inspiration to many and I appreciate you writing about your current journey with such insight and acceptance. As a palliative care physician I have had many of those “end of life ” conversations witnessing the full range of joy to regret. I’ve witnessed a lot of phantom pain but without actually experiencing it personally I can’t say “I know what you are going through” but certainly empathize with you.
    I always enjoy your writings and strongly encourage you to keep that going. We all learn from you in many ways.
    All the very best on the journey ahead while focussing on the present moment as the only time any of us have.

  63. Good morning David. I just finished reading your latest newsletter. I want you to know that I’m praying for you, not only for your healing but for your wellbeing. I’m not at 92 yet, like Stanley, but I AM pushing 70 pretty hard. I haven’t had any amputations yet, but I have had 9 major surgeries, 3 of which involved my hip & back, trying to get rid of the constant pain from all my lumbar discs being herniated. I say this to encourage you…while not being “as good” of a photographer as you are at this stage in my life, I enjoy being “out” as much as anyone. I told my neurosurgeon that being out was the number one consideration for my mental health, so whatever it takes to get me there and keep me there is what I’m always working towards. I encourage you to look ahead…a year from now (or less) you’ll be figuring out that you CAN still have those life filling experiences you look for. Several years ago after hip replacement surgery and my first back surgery, and looking at a second back surgery, my wife asked me WHY do I keep pushing myself to be outside, still taking photographs, when she knows I’m in pain everyday. Why do I still look forward to traveling with her, even when it requires many hours flying or driving to get where we’re going? All I can say is God gave me peace in my heart and in my mind. The sheer joy it brings me, doing what I love to do, far surpasses the prospect of pain that may be at the moment or the prospective pain of what I might encounter the “next day”. It’s as simple as that. While you are going through your recovery process. both healing and learning a “new normal” with your prosthetic, know that I’ll still be praying for you, lifting you up, and having full confidence that God will bring you to where you “need” to be. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with the process. Recovery can be a long road, and much can be learned about yourself, and about the team around you. Get to know them too. You’ll most likely find some additional interests there. Stay strong, be safe.

  64. Beautiful and thought provoking. I am grateful to you for sharing this eloquent reminder of the importance of experiencing and exploring this miraculous gift of life. Sending hope for relief of your pain and best wishes for the next phase of your journey.

  65. I enjoy your willingness to let us take this journey with you. Your loss is our gain. (Stepping out of my comfort zone to make that pun!)
    I pray your Phantom will be put to rest sooner than later and you can get better sleep. Your words struck me, though. Losing something creates phantom pains in many ways. Losing my mum 2 years ago shook my world and my Phantom is still there urging me to call her and tell her things. The brain is indeed ‘looking for what isn’t there’. Not quite the same thing, but I was struck by the similarities.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  66. David, I am so grateful that I discovered you as an author and teacher for my struggle to become a photographer. Now I was glad to be able to also support you a very little bit through buying These monographes. You will reach it, I am shure. So many heeling thoughts for your recovery! 🙏Rike

  67. I have found your writings very insightful to how I go about making images and how I live life. Your sharing about regrets of trying and not trying, especially so. Thank you for your willingness to speak with authenticity, integrity, and risk.

    Don Mendenhall

  68. David, thank you for sharing your struggle with us. Teddy Roosevelt made a very cogent comment about the value of trying that I won’t try to paraphrase but is quite profound.
    As one who deals with chronic pain for as long as I can remember, it is when I am fully in the moment that I feel no anguish. As a friend remarked once, “Steve, you come alive when you are photographing” it took me a while to understand what he saw. Compared to my actions when I deal with my pain, my actions when I photograph something appear to be more active and engaged. I expect that will be your reality and I hope you find the same release, be it conscious or not.

  69. Dave, I’m 75 still working as an engineer for the defense industry and have been working full time since September 1970. In the course of this life, I have tried lots and lots of things and regret none of them. Setting up a house and a sheep farm in Vermont (epic failure), winter mountaineering (in a tent) on Mt Washington one February weekend in 2006 (epic success), working as a wedding photography for many years (a mixed bag of experiences), helping to design the thermal protection system tiles for the Space Shuttle in 1971 (my design was correct, and NASA’s design resulted in the loss of the shuttle Columbia in 2003), being the structural engineer for the first X-Ray telescope (a satellite) in the mid 1970’s (an incredible success) , and as an engineer at Draper Laboratory , I helped design and construct the first automated factory for Pratt & Whitney in Georgia to produce jet engine parts. Finally for the past 30 years doing engineering work for the Government. OK you’ve got a challenge, deal with it, learn to use the prosthetic and get back to work. You have people to educate about photography. Onward and upward.

  70. For me personally, I love your introspective, thoughtful and deeply personalized writing. be it photography or current personal searching. I miss A Beautiful Anarchy and this ( in spite of the pain you are enduring) was inspiring and moving…
    Best hopes and wishes for this decison and journey moving forward.

  71. If there ever was a story from the heart, this is the one, My birthday was last Friday, 92 – your really coming close to my heart, lol
    thank you for all you have done for me and I wish you and your Family a great life, You and your Family have many years to enjoy
    Stan Kwasniowski

      1. Hey David,
        You don’t need to apologize for not talking about Fstops, an Fstop is an Fstop, nothing more. You talk about what you feel, a far more interesting subject. Your one of the best writers around, you talk about the human soul. You talk about what people think, but don’t share with others. Glad that your on the road to recovery and that your not stumped for things to write about.

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