4.26.2009

A life divided by the two warring sides of my brain....

If you've followed my writing here for a while you've no doubt figured out that I really like shooting portraits and I really like doing it with medium format cameras.  Some people have (rightly) conjectured that I like doing it that way because of habit.  And to a point I agree.

But I'm not the least bit torn by the direction or the production of my portraits.  I am torn by my desire to write and to photograph and I constantly worry that I won't be able to do either as well as I could if I cast one of the two passions away and concentrated on doing one thing well.

But that's really tough.  Which way to go?  I think the question is particularly poignant for me today because I've been slamming away at my laptop finishing the writing on my fourth book.  I called it "quits" at 44,000 words because I couldn't think of anything else genuine to say about my subject. I still have to harvest one hundred photos (give or take a dozen) and caption them, but the hard part of the writing is over.

And here's my issue/problem/conundrum:  How to balance the visual side with the word side? Do I need to abandon the book writing to concentrate on the photographs or vice versa?  It's an interesting predicament.  

I think it took writing a book about lighting equipment to make me realize that much of what Steven Pressfield says in his book,  The War of Art, is correct.  That we accept assignments that seem like opportunities but are really our subconscious minds throwing obstacles in our true paths.  I really want to write a book about the "why" of photography but I keep writing about the "how".  That's supposedly the stuff the market wants.  But have people tried another way? Are there books out there that I've just missed that talk about a person's journey as a photographer?  

I would love to read a book that documents the life of a great fashion or advertising photographer from the photographer's point of view, not a biographer's.  A book filled with the trepidation, the hesitation and the fear of moving one's art forward.  I'd love to know if all artists are filled with the same lack of self confidence and jittering anxiety about their own work.  Instead we get what the artists want to project: confidence, the illusion of mastery and a public persona that's all about being comfortably, confidently at the top.  

I'd love to hear about the tight spots, the model meltdowns, the financial set backs, the family friction and the un-winnable battle to balance the domestic pull with the frantic tug of art.  A de-glamorizing look at the business and the craft of photography.  An assignment shooting waste water treatment plants in Biloxi instead of Madonna in Paris.

That's a book I'd buy.