Discover more from Process by Wesley Verhoeve
Process 107 ☼ Finding My Purpose
Discovering the Through Line: A Visual Creative's Journey of Unveiling Purpose
In this week's letter, we get personal as I share the story of discovering my purpose and the journey to find my through line. What is a through line? Keep reading.
Also included are a smattering of recent street pictures taken in Amsterdam with my Hasselblad 500cm. They’re all examples of moments when I noticed someone fascinating during my city walks and documented the moment to share with you.
Big Shout out to my friends at Squarespace for helping make this issue possible.
I’m accepting applications for my photo assistant internship. More here.
I am opening up my September calendar for a few mentor sessions. These can happen via Zoom or in person. Learn more here. Below is a snap from my session with photographer Jop Verheijen who had this to say about the experience:
“During the mentorship session Wesley helped me to clarify my goals and give me the direction I needed to proceed with my project. Wesley’s knowledge and his creative choices opened up possibilities I hadn’t thought about before. The session was effective because of the process Wesley follows and super fun since you can learn from him in a hands-on way.”
Discovering My Through Line
Life is a fascinating journey, a series of seemingly unrelated chapters that we often piece together only in hindsight. We navigate various roles and careers, sometimes wandering aimlessly, wondering if there's a hidden thread that ties it all together. As a photographer who has previously worked in the music business and ran a men’s accessories and home goods line, I've come to realize that what felt like a scattered journey was, in fact, a beautifully interwoven through line defined by my purpose.
In the heart of New York City's vibrant music scene, I found myself immersed in the world of record production and artist management. I worked at major labels, wrote songs that ended up in tv shows, promoted hundreds of concerts, and eventually ran my own independent record label. Those days, I was consumed by the rhythm and melodies of the artists I worked with. Music was our canvas, and every song was a story waiting to be told through production, art, videos, and more. It was a thrilling time, especially the fan response which even included some lyrics tattoos.
During the last few years of working in music, I co-founded a men’s accessories and home goods company called GNTLMN. I helped co-design products with talented artisans who handmade each item in short runs. As I collaborated with these artisans, I was drawn to the stories behind their craft—their heritage, the sweat and soul they poured into each piece. The art of creation, a theme persistently emerging in my narrative, once again became my muse. Crafting documentaries and photo essays to capture these tales felt like breathing life into artistry and some even ended up featured by GQ Magazine. Each of our products sold out and things went well until my co-founder got a great job offer he could not refuse and we sunset the company.
At the time we ended GNTLMN, I was still very active in the music business, but I was also getting close to burned out on the work culture in this field so I decided to step away from my music company for a period and take some time to travel and recharge. During this period I fell headfirst into photography, albeit unplanned, which resulted in my first photography project One of Many. I’ve described this period in detail in Process 082, including how it resulted in my first-ever sponsorship from the good folks at Squarespace. In a beautiful full-circle moment, Squarespace recently came on board to help support Process as well.
It was never my plan to become a professional photographer but as I continued to follow my curiosity about people and stories it became my way of understanding and connecting to the world. My ultimate creative language. I found myself capturing the essence of individuals—their stories, expressions, and emotions. With every click of the shutter, I aimed to unearth stories that lingered beneath the surface. This time, though different in medium, the underlying theme was unmistakable: I was an observer, a storyteller, a conduit for the narratives that yearned to be shared.
One more story. Some years prior to my photography career the team at WeTransfer invited me to curate a series of nearly 600 visual artists whose work would be showcased. A few years later, after establishing myself as a photographer, I was invited by the International Center of Photography to create and curate an ongoing exhibition to highlight new voices in photography*. Once again I found myself digging deep for interesting stories, curating the work of over 300 photographers, and collaborating on the best way to present it to the world.
While all my pursuits seemed like disparate chapters to me, in hindsight, a clear through line emerged—one that tied them all together. Through music, design, and photography, I was on a constant quest to discover and amplify stories that resonated with authenticity. I was drawn to the intricate details, the raw emotions, and the connections that breathe life into our experiences.
Yet, as I embarked on each new endeavor, there were moments of self-doubt. There were times when I felt like I was adrift, floating from one pursuit to the next without a concrete path, in stark contrast to my friends who pursued a career with focus. At this stage, they had been promoted several times, or built out their own companies, and here I was still starting over every few years. The transition from music to design to photography was not linear, and it left me questioning whether my journey was simply a chaotic dance rather than a focused progression.
But here's the beauty of retrospect: those moments of uncertainty were essential. They were the pivots that eventually led me to discover my true through line. It was in reflecting on my seemingly disparate pursuits that I found a common thread—a deep-rooted desire to unearth the stories that often remained untold. In each chapter, each role was a manifestation of this unwavering passion.
In a world that often celebrates linear trajectories and instant success stories, it's crucial to embrace the journey's natural ebb and flow. Life doesn't always unfold according to a preordained script. Sometimes, it's in the wandering that we find the most profound connections, both within ourselves and with the world around us.
So, to all the creatives, the dreamers, and the explorers who, like me, have experienced moments of doubt, remember this: your journey is uniquely yours. It's a mosaic of experiences, woven together by a thread that may take time to reveal itself. Just as we as photographers adjust our focus to capture the perfect shot, take a moment to adjust your perspective and uncover the narratives that connect your endeavors.
As we navigate the chapters of our life, remember that there's an invisible force propelling us forward—a force that, when recognized, will infuse our pursuits with purpose. Embrace the twists and turns, honor the unscripted moments, and above all, be kind to yourself. Your through line may not be apparent immediately, but in time, the intricate pattern of your journey will unveil itself, revealing a story that's uniquely yours to tell.
That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed this issue I’d love for you to share it with friends. I’d love to hear from you in the comments about your own purpose, your own throughline, even if you’re not sure and are still discovering it. Everyone’s story can inspire someone else.
Next Week: Shooting quiet still lives in and around my home, on expired film. Plus updates on the NOTICE Journal, Creatives In, and the return of the Proces Giveaway
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others. <3
PS All my analog work is lovingly developed and scanned by my friends at Carmencita Film Lab. They’re my favorite lab in the world and I’m grateful for our collaboration. Use code “PROCESS” at check out to get a free upgrade.
PPS * I wrote more about my curatorial work for ICP in Process 084.
Gear & Tools Used
Camera: All images included in this issue of Process were shot on the Hasselblad 500cm with a Zeiss Distagon 50mm f/4 C lens.
Film: Kodak Tri-X, Kodak Portra 400NC, Konica CT 400, Palm Panchromatic 100.
Website: Big shout out to Squarespace for helping make this issue of Process possible. If you need a website, I can’t recommend using Squarespace more. I have been a paying customer for more than 10 years (!!?) and it’s been delightfully easy to build and maintain a beautiful and professional portfolio. I even added a webshop to it recently.
Check out Squarespace and use the code PROCESS10 for 10% off your first order.
The best way to support my work here at Process is to buy my photo book NOTICE.