Conductor and Composer

Last night, with Shannon, I went to see the movie “Maestro” – the life story of Leonard Bernstein, the legendary composer and conductor. I don’t want to spoil any of it for you, other than to tell you it was an epic piece of cinema and you need to go see it.

The movie, directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, is a fearless love story that explores Bernstein’s identity, sexuality, creativity, and family. It spans decades of his life, from his humble beginnings in Boston to his rise to fame in New York and beyond. It also shows his struggles with his own demons, his critics, and his turbulent marriage to Felicia Montealegre.

One of the scenes that struck me the most was when Bernstein, played by Cooper, was interviewed by a journalist about his work. He talked about the difference between his public life as a conductor and his private life as a composer. He said that as a conductor, he had to be a leader, a teacher, a communicator, and a performer. He had to inspire the orchestra, the audience, and himself. He had to be confident, charismatic, and passionate. He had to be in control.

But as a composer, he said, he had to be a listener, a learner, a creator, and a dreamer. He had to follow his intuition, his imagination, and his heart. He had to be humble, curious, and vulnerable. He had to let go.

He said that he loved both aspects of his musical career, but he also felt torn between them. He felt that he had to sacrifice one for the other, or that he could not excel at both. He felt that he had to choose.

As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but think how most artists, myself included, struggle with and through this same career and life duality.

For example, if you don’t mind me being personal, in my public life, I am a photographer-technician. I use my iPhone to capture and edit stunning images of the world around me. I share them on social media, where I have a large and loyal following. I also write about my photography, giving tips, insights, and opinions on various topics. I am loud, opinionated, confident, extroverted, democratic, and celebrated.

But in my personal life, I am an artist-poet. I use my iPhone to express and explore my inner world. I create images and words that reflect my feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I keep many of them to myself or share them with a few close friends. I am quiet, introspective, sensitive, introverted, discreet, and humble.

You might think that these two sides of me are contradictory, or that they are in conflict. But the truth is, I am who I am in public because I am who I am in private first and foremost.

My quiet side is where I spend most of my head and heart space. It’s the part that I like keeping to myself. It’s the part of me that likes being alone, thoughtful, reflective, ruminative, and contemplative. This sequestered side is teeming with ideas, insecurities, emotions, failures, challenges, dreams, and plans. But truth be told, this whispered side is the side I love being in the most.

Yes, it’s lonely. Yes, at times, it’s isolated. Yes, it’s disagreeable and full of creative tension. But it’s where my photographic creativity lives and blossoms. It’s where I find my voice, my vision, and my purpose.

I am public, in large part, because of my private life. I am not afraid to show the world who I am, what I do, and what I believe in. I am not ashamed to share my work, my passion, and my joy. I am not shy to connect with others, to inspire them, and to learn from them. I am proud to be an iPhone photographer and to be part of a community of amazing artists.

But I am also grateful for my private life. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow, to discover, and to create. I am happy to have a space where I can be myself, without any expectations, judgments, or pressures. I am content to be an iPhone photographer and to be in love with my art.

Maestro is a movie that made me reflect on my life as an iPhone photographer. It made me appreciate both my public and private sides, and how they complement each other. It made me realize that I don’t have to choose between them, or that I can’t be good at both. It made me embrace my duality, and celebrate my diversity.

If you are an artist or a lover of art, I highly recommend you watch this movie. It might make you reflect on your own life, and your own art. It might make you see yourself in a new light, and appreciate your own journey. It might make you feel alive, and in love.



Jack Hollingsworth