3.04.2014

The mindset of one photographer.


All the business stuff we talk about exists only to support my inherent laziness and my desire to walk around with a camera and point it at stuff that might only interest me. Cameras are props that allow me to stare longer at people and situations by circumventing typical social conventions concerning direct staring and spatial intrusion. Everything I shoot is source material for future fictional writing. Or it's a resonant reminder of amalgamations I want to remember.

Everything I shoot for myself is a form of archival memory of a feeling, a thought, a visual  juxtaposition. My goal is rarely the printed image hung on a wall. My sharing mainly consists of putting images up on this blog to illustrate what I write about.

The images are self contained historical artifacts that I use to prove to myself that I've lived and experienced the things I have. If other people like them then my ego is happy. If no one liked them I would keep shooting but stop showing. How can the images have the same resonance for others that they have for me. None of us share the same unique set of experiences.

We are all on a journey through life and the only important thing in my mind is to understand where I've been and where I might be going. The camera helps me keep track of my progress. This is selfish but it's true. I don't do this (writing or photography) for anyone else and I suspect anyone who says that their over riding motivation is to share their work for other's benefit of either trying to fool their public or trying to fool themselves.

I had a thought today when I was talking to another professional photographer over coffee. Maybe the cameras that help us elicit our best work, the machines that help us break through the clutter. are the ones that give us the most friction and the least handling satisfaction. Maybe  having to fight against a recalcitrant machine is an important part of some sort of process. Maybe the operational friction makes us bear down harder and commit to our purpose more forcefully.

I was reminded when I selected this photograph that I was working at the time with the Samsung Galaxy NX camera and there were things I didn't like about the apparatus. The EVF was mediocre and the operational speed of the camera was much doggier than my usual cameras. Saving files was more an art than a science.... But it was the camera I had in my hand at the time. (and in its defense still very much a beta product). But somehow I felt more invested in the images that I successfully shot because each one required more of my attention and more of my focused intention.

Maybe we've been thinking about all this photography gear in the wrong way. Maybe we should be looking for cameras that create more challenges for us. More obstacles to overcome. Maybe the determination to win is vital to mastering the image rather than being handed the image on a spoon, with tremendous ease. Perhaps the challenge brings a deeper spirit to the fore and moves us to think more clearly.

Then again maybe all current cameras have become more or less transparent. The obvious ones being too transparent.  And it's the very transparency or lack of effort that diminishes our feelings of satisfaction and competence.

Someone recently remarked about the image of the art historian that I put up that they didn't understand. Was I pranking my viewers? The image had graininess and wasn't acerbically, surgically sharp. Could my reader have missed the entire point of a portrait or did I misunderstand the need for technical perfection in every modern piece of art? Non-perfection. The new feature set.

A good reminder from Thom Hogan... The value of "unique."

http://www.dslrbodies.com/technique/technique-articles/improving-the-photographer/outrunning-those-just-behin.html

Had coffee with an interesting person this morning who pointed me to Thom's column. It's a good read.