All we can really do is show other people how we see the world.

I am always amazed at the workshop experience.  I start out being baffled that people think there's some secret to be learned.  By the end of the day I end up learning much more about myself and my relationship with photography.  My constant conclusion?  I should spend more time shooting.

Someone asked me, recently, what I would do with my time if I no longer had to work to support myself and my family.  For a second or so I thought about our whole social construct.  Of course, we could sell our house and a lot of my toys and probably live fine on what we've already saved.  But there's that striving gene.  The "gotta put the boy thru school" ethos.  That "need new ________ mantra."  But after a few moments lost in the delirium of just dropping out I respond, from the heart,  I would basically do just what I do right now.  Make photographs that show people my happy and optimistic view of the world around me.
I guess I would swim more.  But wouldn't we all swim more  if we had more free time?  No?  I'm shocked and confused.

Maybe I'd take more road trips to Balmorhea Springs and.........

Spend more time really looking at the little fish on the bottom of the pool.....

Or watching beautiful sunsets.

Or going to more plays and performances....but wait, I'm already go to 28,000 times more than the average American....

I guess I could also learn what's on all the cable channels.  But probably not, since we don't subscribe to cable and wouldn't start if I stopped raking in the fortune that commercial photographers all make.

I'd have more time to venture out and meet beautiful people and ask them to sit for me so I could work on my skills as a portrait photographer.  That's a relentless goal anyway.

And you know that, if I didn't have to work,  I'd become a fixture at the Paris fashion shows.  Just, you know, to keep my runway chops in shape.  Might be easier now, in the days of AF and digital.  But where's the challenge in that?

But really,  whether we call it work or a hobby isn't photography just an excuse to look more closely and relentlessly at the people and things around us?  Maybe it helps us understand something.  Or maybe it just lets us play with patterns in the chaos.

Kind of a silly blog post but I've spent time today just looking at old photographs and reconciling the ways in which they inform what I do right now.  I'm about to make a big shift in the way I work.  Away from the traditional business construct and into areas that are self directed.  More creative.  More multi-disciplinary.  And when you read the blog you're along for part of the ride.

More books.  But self directed books.  So I don't have to feel guilty if they don't sell.  More film projects that make televisions worth having.  And more intersections with other artists.

The cool thing about being in a creative field is that whatever boundaries exist they are all self constructed.  And whatever you want to do you are free to do.  And that's a cool thing to realize.

The last image is just me shooting into a mirrored window at some giant, skyscraper high-rise with the Austin Music Hall reflected in the background.

When I finish typing this last paragraph I'm going to go pack a camera bag for this evening's dress rehearsal shoot of Suzan Lori-Park's play, The Book Of Grace.  I'm using the three Zeiss lenses.  It's a challenge to shoot manual focus lenses in an ever moving  production, in the round, under low lights but....that's what makes it fun!  And we all need to learn how to have more fun.


Anonymous said...

How big is the team that writes and produces your blog? I no longer believe that you exist or that this blog comes from one person who has another job. Fess up!

Juznobsrvr said...

i don't know if it's just me but i think this is the coolest post you've ever made ... cheers

Tyson Habein said...

"But really, whether we call it work or a hobby isn't photography just an excuse to look more closely and relentlessly at the people and things around us?" Hell yes.

Reminds me a bit of Lou "O'Bedlam" saying that he became a photographer because it was the only way he could spend large portions of a day staring at someone without making them uncomfortable.

Dig this post.

Mindless said...

Feel the same way! :) Without the need of earn money I would just shoot more. :)
I would have money to travel anywhere to sport or other interesting events. I shouldn't count on expense and take... just shoot.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Hmmm. Without the need to earn a living? What would I do? Some thoughts:

I'd calculate the weight between film and batteries/memory cards, and take what gives me the most, and walk the alps. Alone. I'd ask some friendly dairymaids if I could sleep in the hay, or just stay with myself, without people. Take the best wide angle I can find, and a tripod, and be gone, at least for a while.

Then, I'd go and visit all the metropolitan areas which I find interesting. Paris. Rome. Amsterdam. New York. Take a wide open lens and try to catch some scenes like HCB, and during the nights, walk with my tripod again.

I'd build a studio in an old villa, with lighting on rails like Yuri Arcurs did, but not for microstock; I'd ask people in, as many as I can possibly find. And then take their portraits. With 300k in Profoto Lights, at least I wouldn't have excuses anymore, if something would work, it would definitely be *my* fault.

I guess you're right on the spot again, Kirk - in the end, we're only trying to show others how we see the world. And yes, photography is a perfect excuse to really get a closer look of all that beauty around us.

Thanks for posting your photos again, these are some of your best. Together with that one in Rome, the lady on the stairs.

Frank Grygier said...

Iron sharpens iron. I attend workshops more for the collaborative atmosphere than trying to distill whatever knowledge and experience the mentor has to offer in the two or three days of sharing techniques that let's face it are not that new or revolutionary into a career changing event. I find that the experience of being around like minded individuals who share the same passion to express themselves through photography inspires me to be a better artist.

Skip Hunt said...

Seems travel makes it easier for me. Something about being in an unfamiliar place makes you so much more aware of the details. Seems like very quickly, familiarity can filter out all the good stuff if you let it.

Denis Markell said...


Lovely post. This is a little off topic, but it's a question about your portraiture. I can't pretend to have gone through your entire blog, but I did see that lovely series you did with the model in the studio with the last picture at Starbucks - and all these portraits in this post. I can't help but notice you always seem to have your subject looking at the lens - or the viewer.

I'm kind of partial to portraits in which the subject is "caught" in thought, or looking off through a window - (I had a children's portrait business here in Brooklyn Height for a while.)

I know you favor the unposed moment, so I wonder if I've just missed a whole bunch of your portraits in which the subject isn't looking at the camera.



kirk tuck said...

Denis, thanks for the question. I don't mind a photograph where the person is looking away from the camera but I don't quite consider them portraits the way my mind thinks of portraits. My style for studio work is to always have the direct engagement between the sitter and the camera/viewer. In fact, with the exception of a fireman and his baby girl and some candid shots scattered about my site you won't find any lit. posed portraits that aren't directly in to the camera. It's just what I like. No accounting for taste.....especially mine.

Clay said...

I find pictures are an odd form of communication. They're like a message in a bottle. It's like Somerset Maugham said in "The Moon and Sixpence"

"Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown by them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener's aunt is in the house."

I would add that most of the treasures of our hearts are unknown to our own selves, and it's only by making pictures that we can reveal them to us.