A new year of photography. I only have one resolution...

And that resolution is to spend less time sitting in front of my computer and more time out walking, taking photos, dipping myself into the river of real life. I have lots of micro goals but taking back my time from the tar pits of the internet is the sole resolution.  To that end I've wound down my participation in almost every forum out there. My time on Facebook is limited to about five minutes a day. I've largely given up on Twitter except to automatically post a notice every time I finished publishing a blog.

My take on the whole internet thing is this: The more information I accrue the less I know. Reading about something is not the same as understanding through doing. Reading someone else's description of eating a great meal is never as satisfying as sitting down and experiencing that meal on your own. For the same reason I never waste time watching sports on TV (or in person). Why would you want to do that when you can go out and play the sport yourself?

So many of my friends are locked into a logic pit or endless learning loop. They spend hours every day reading about someone else's photographic techniques as though reading about it is an osmotic process that will embue them with the knowledge they need to do something with their cameras. In the end they might discover that the only real knowledge is that which they win themselves. Trial and error is a better learning tool than most other methods. Trying and refining is the next tool. Mastery and abandonment is the next step. Learn something remarkably well and then abandon it in order to do the art without conscious reference to operational information and logic. But all the web can offer is a river of information. It doesn't offer the trial, the test, the process of making the art your own. I used to look to the web for indications of where photography was going. All I discovered is that everyone's work is going in all different directions and none of those directions have anything to do with my work.

My goal isn't to master a fad or a popular technique. My goal is to make images that matter to me. In my style. And that's a style I've built over decades; one I don't plan on changing to match the whims of collective. If you are having problems developing a style the first step is to turn off all the external influences that distract you.  And that means less time on the internet and more time doing your work.

The image above was taken last Saturday. I'd gone for a walk in the late afternoon.  I'd passed by this building so many times during daylight hours and never really looked in the windows but when the daylight faded and the lights of the display became dominant the form stood out. I was carrying my Sony Nex-6 and the (permanently attached :-) ) 50mm 1.8 OSS lens. I lifted it to my eye and snapped a few frames. When I got back to the studio I cropped it square and printed a small copy. I can't explain why I like it but I do. And if I'd spent the time "researching" on the web I would have never seen the scene in this particular light. It would not have existed for me.

My one resolution: Create more photographs. Spend less time on the internet.

“Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work,” --Chuck Close


Kirk Tuck said...

And yes, I get the irony of writing this particular piece and publishing it on the web.....

Libby said...

"a logic pit or endless learning loop"

Or pixel peeping loop. Those kinds of posts are only for entertainment value these days.

We've had a plethora of good cameras released in 20012, and those who acquire them will not think about what new feature they can utilize to make a picture even better, they'll just continue to post bad snapshots taken with a $6000 camera and a $3000 lens. I ran across one the other day about the "amazing D800". It was a thoroughly bad pic of a palm tree.

Crap - I'm replying to a bog post when I should be shooting ;-)

Happy New Year and best to you always.

Gregg Mack said...

Kirk, that first paragraph parallels my own New Year's Resolution. I'm already happier just thinking about it that way. Best wishes to you on your new resolution!

sey said...


Unknown said...

Good for you!

My goal is to spend less time here at the keyboard and then go out and "invest" that time and energy in the shooting of photos that interest me. No more $$$ dumped into new whiz-bang gadgets, but use what I have dump that $$ into creating new opportunities (that's travel to undiscovered places and there are still many to be found!) and create great photos.

Then I'll come back to my digital darkroom and print like mad!

Jan Kirchner said...

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" T. S. Eliot (1934)

"And where is the information we have lost in communication?" Thomas Hoof (German retailer in a company prospect, 200x)

Happy New Year!

Philip Ho said...

And here's the video in which Chuck Close reads a letter written to his younger self, in which that very quote at the end of Kirk's post is mentioned:


cidereye said...

Mine is to spend less time on computer and get around to scanning dozens of films I've not got around to yet.