Backstreet Paris. Handmade crafts not dead yet.
Backstreet Paris. Handmade crafts not dead yet.
Happy where the spirit is near
Happy where the livin’ is easy and the people are kind
A new state of mind
No need to escape from what is
Spirit at ease
One of the challenges a lot of photographers face these days is dealing with expectations they place on themselves that pertains to their audience or peers. These expectations come in a variety of formats but one thing that I think always gives them away is when a photographer is talking about where they are struggling and uses the word “should” as opposed to saying something like “I want to…”.
What should we post to social media? The image I like, or the image I think will be popular. Social media has built a vast and valuable network, but as we network more and more, and experience less and less isolation in our creative lives, it becomes harder and harder to hold onto our individual approaches to doing our work. Influences and expectations from external sources compete with our own internal desires. And it is often hard to even realise when you are changing up your creative approach, or even thinking about your photography, based on those external influences… adopting “this is how I should be doing things” over “this is how I want to do things”.
Can one get away from these pressures and influences? Unlikely. But I think there are ways to be more aware of them and manage them.
The first is just paying attention to how you think and talk about your own work, be it internally or with others. If you are critiquing yourself based on comparisons to other photography, this is a red flag. Watch the other language you use and ask yourself where it comes from. Again, the word “Should” in particular is one to note. When you find yourself using it, ask yourself just why should you do this thing differently? Is it because you want to, or because something else is making you feel like you ought to. Identifying this sort of thing is a great first step.
Another, may be to remember that you are your first and most important audience. If you are going to play to an audience, make that primary audience yourself first and everyone else secondary. Make photography for you, then share it with others.
Third is give yourself some space. Create a buffer zone between you and social media. It is surprising what a break can do for you. Spend that time making photos. Another way is don’t share work immediately. Sit on it. I often sit on images for months. What this does for me is that when an image does show up it is because it jumped out to me and spoke to me as when browsing my libraries. In other words, by waiting it makes it much easier for my motivations for posting a particular image to be because I felt something personally with that image, not because I was responding to external pressure to put something on social media for the rewards of likes, shares, engagement, etc. Of all the things I do, I think this delay in posting is one of the more helpful in creating a bit of space between me and the social media audience. It gives me time to process my feelings on my imagery and develop that relationship, so by the time the image goes up, everything that happens on the internet is just icing on the cake.
I also think it is a good practice to sit down and think about what kind of photographer you want to be, how you want to make images, what makes you happy. List these things out and then follow them as close as you can. Just some thoughts scribbled down on a rainy day afternoon.
The Gods smiled on me, and I managed to secure a concert ticket for December to see one of my favourite bands in Paris. My first gig since moving to France.
Being a film photographer I move a bit slower and am more concerned with the nature of delayed rather than instant gratification. Also, this image happened to be the first exposure on the roll, meaning I had to make it through another 11 shots to finish this up and even see this exposure. The notion of first exposures is a worthwhile one to explore. A higher-than-normal percentage of my favourite images tend to be the first or last exposures on a roll because I tend to lend more weight to the making of those photos. For example, I typically don’t load an empty camera, or empty film back, until I have a picture to make. That means when a roll of film does get loaded it is because I have enough of a purpose in mind to motivate me to load film. And the film that gets loaded is being selected for the first image it will be used to make. Along those lines, when I get to the last frame I really try to make that last exposure count. There is no better way to wrap up a roll of film than with an image you are excited about. Another way of approaching this is to go out without any spare rolls of film. I did this on this outing with my two Hasselblad backs, one of which is dedicated to colour and the other to b&w. I opted to not take any extra rolls of colour film with me and that back was on exposure 10, meaning I had only three shots remaining for an entire excursion. It is limiting but scarcity can also place greater value. With only three shots, or by waiting on my first shot of the roll, or the last shot, I am placing a higher-than-normal value on those exposures and because I do so, I tend to enjoy a higher-than-normal success rate with those images.
Over the years I have noticed a trend in my photography. To be fair, I notice many trends. It is sort of how I work: I make photos over a long span of time then see where the pictures settle and read them like tea leaves. It gives me a perspective on what I am doing that I don’t have while I am out doing it. But I digress. It is a lot about feeling, mood, perspective or whatever other abstract ideas you want to associate with what guides us through the creative process. I tend to be more in a black and white mood, for lack of better words. I love the simplicity of black and white. It pares the world down a bit to more essential elements. It makes things a bit simpler, a bit quieter… in a way. And that is a big part of what is driving me. I appreciate that simpler rendering.
I think part of it is also the timeless nature of b&w film/images. Colour is date able, by which I mean, you can generally tell when a colour image is made by its palette. The colour films of the 1970s look like the 1970s, just as the colour palettes of today’s images have a distinct look that is temporally anchored. Black and white eschews this dating to some degree. And I appreciate this too. That I am more easily able to make an image that is not anchored to a particular time, because sometimes the image I am making is not about a specific time at all, and if that is the case I don’t want that association to be baked into the photo. If that makes sense. But I do just like the concept of time as this slippery, amorphous, crazy notion of a thing and so if there is a way to set it aside just a bit, to make a photo that isn’t necessarily of a certain place at a certain time but perhaps somewhere sometime, then I enjoy doing that as well.
So there it is, just some of my thoughts hammered out in a bit of a stream-of-consciousness manner.
Callac Lake Jan.2019
One of my photographic interests has been to collect an exposed roll of every type of black and white film. For years I used almost exclusively just Tri-X. And I love Tri-X, but every roll of Tri-X I shot was a roll of some other film I didn’t and asking myself the question what would this look like with another film. I got a bit tired of not having good answers. What are the differences between Delta 400 and Tmax 400? How about Tmax 400 and APX 400? What does that Adox CMS 20 II look like? Or the Copex Rapid film? I think it is true that there is not enough time in the day to use every roll, which is why it has been a project that hopefully will never end. Unfortunately 35mm takes me half of forever. But I have been using my Nikon more and more. I can keep that trusted camera loaded with weird films and have been carrying it with me everywhere, trying to move faster than I normally do but not too fast that I produce a bunch of ho-hum images.
Wood Ducks Home Jan.2019
It is nice when I do finish one of these rolls though. I just got through a roll of the Washi S. It took about a month or so. I also underexposed it a bit because I thought it was ISO 80 when it is really ISO 50. Ooops. But that is ok because the results turned out interestingly enough. Deep shadows, high contrast, no grain. And that is one of the benefits to a project like this, it nudges me in directions I wouldn’t have gone without that nudge. Would I have tried a roll of this out otherwise? I highly doubt it. And hence I wouldn’t have made these images either. Anyway, just thoughts on this ongoing experiment. Now the Nikon is loaded with a roll of Lomography Berlin 400 film.
Susan New Years Eve Mont St. Michel 2018
Tree and Birds Jan 2019
There is more I have to say for these than time I have to say it. And as time is the best medicine, just stand quietly for a minute and enjoy.
Aged Lomography Purple iso 400 Negative film
Small Car Mael Carhaix Jan 2019
Purple Train Gouarec Jan 2019
Veneno para las hadas Malvran Forest Jan 2019
Pink Slide (in the real world it’s Yellow) Lac de Guerledan Jan 2019
Hello 2019, I think it will be a pleasure experiencing you. I already know some of the things you have in store for the coming twelve months but I am excited to see what surprises you have around your corners, just out of current sight. So off I go through the portal.
Shadows on rock
Head above water
The pull of the unknown
Huelgoat December 2018