Looking back is looking forward.

When I'm in the moment I think the stuff I'm working on is really great and destined to go into the portfolio but time is an interesting filter.  And the stuff I shot years ago because I needed the money or I volunteered or I shot because I was stumbling around, bored, with a camera?  The same time filter eventually causes the old work with value to bubble up.  If you take the time to go back and look at it.

People are always in such a hurry to do new stuff.  Always new stuff.  It's relentless and once you jump in and get in the habit of habitually shooting you can almost not help trying to make each day and everything you come across a series or a project.

And what happens to most of us is that we're so busy administering the endless flow of raw files that need archived, and images that need processed and so on that we never take the luxurious step of just sitting back and really looking at what we've already done.  In an unhurried way.  In a thoughtful way.

There's an extra layer that mitigates against reappraisal of past work in digital and that is our subconscious belief that the cameras we are using today are so far improved over what we shot with just five years ago that.....what's the point of going backward?

But that's the very core of what knowledgable people have been saying for years:  It's really not the camera.  It's really all about the vision and the seeing.  And the lighting and, in the end, getting off the office chair and doing.  (Not taking a stab at non photo professional office workers but photographers of any stripe who research photography more than they shoot it).

There are always advances.  Some good and some bad.  But artists having always gone forward with the tools of the day and made art that stands.  They use the shortcomings of the tools as formalist boundaries which they use to define their niche in the genre.  There are artists selling work from the five and six megapixel generation of cameras in museums and galleries.  Images from 35mm film are still collected and appreciated.  At some point looking back reinforces to you what you got right and what you'd do differently.  And for that alone it's an incredibly valuable undertaking.

I shot these a few years back for a mentoring program called, Project Breakthrough.  In the intervening years we shot trendier versions of kids for the program.  But these seem to be the ones I come back to again and again.  And I look at them to figure out why.

Might want to crack open a few disks from the earlier part of the century and sit quietly with some of the images on them.  Might just give you an older/newer way of looking at things going forward.


Martin said...

Thanks for the post.

Just this morning I went back and looked at some images I'd made two years ago during a lunch break at Zilker Gardens. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed the images I was able to make with the Nikon D1. My D300 is a much better camera in many, many ways but there's something about the D1 that still appeals to me. Or maybe it's just who I was then. I was making a lot of images then, film and digital. I haven't been out much lately. I hope to change that soon.

Thanks for the inspiration.


kirk tuck said...

...."Or maybe it's just who I was then." I absolutely love that phrase. It makes my day because it put a little capper on my thought that made it more real for me. Thanks for adding this!

Hope you get out and shoot. Watch out, it's hot out there...