We asked Monica Stevenson to put her photographic twist on our feature story. For the result, see “Double Lens.” Photo by Paul Mehaffey

Monica Stevenson lives a double life.

I met her last summer when she wanted to show me her portfolio. Many photographers reach out to do the same. Monica, I learned, is different; she has a home in Tryon, North Carolina, and one in New York City. Her commercial photography studio is there, and she shoots for major brands like Cartier, Chanel, and Tiffany & Co. When in Tryon, however, her focus turns from glossy, digitally pristine composites, to stunning, digital and film portraits of equine life.

“Lately, even though I’m shooting digitally,” Stevenson confesses to contributing editor M. Linda Lee in her profile of the artist, “I will often set things incorrectly on my camera so I can allow the pathway for a mistake to happen.”

Stevenson not only welcomes mistakes—she seeks them out. It’s a compelling quality for one who’s hired for her technical prowess. Perhaps that’s why in Tryon she chooses a different path, one based more in emotional response than in slick presentation. In this way, she achieves balance, both creatively and personally.

While we applaud excellence, we realize it’s not one-sided. The slips, the slides, the cracks, the mishaps—the mistakes—are not only necessary, but should be invited. In Eastern thought, this is considered Wabi-sabi, or the philosophy that there is beauty in imperfection, that, in the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

What if failure is just another version of success? There will be dips and bumps, curves taken too quickly, branches in the way—but just when the tunnel is its darkest, the route then opens to a grand view. We each walk a road. Everything along it, the bad and the good, makes it our own.

To know greatness, in business and beyond, means to accept the lows and the highs—both the dark tunnel and the light at the end.


Blair Knobel, Editor-in-Chief

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