Taking Flight

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I am not generally a spontaneous photographer. At least not in the sense of photos that happen in less than 5 seconds of seeing something. I do tend to be spontaneous in the sense that I wander with little direct and rely on intuition frequently. But when I do spot something I tend to be patient and take my time figuring it out before photographing it. Sometimes this takes less than a minute; sometimes it takes more than several minutes. Part of this is because of the cameras I use – the Hasselblad, Nikon or the pinholes – but a big part of it because I like the semi-meditative approach of finding something and then dwelling on it a minute before recording my thoughts/experience by way of an image.

Darkest Dreaming

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Stand together and let our art tell stories that last the ages. Now more than ever, hopefully we can find peace and a way to be effective in provoking positive human change. We as a global society will fall or stand together!

I Think

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I think a lot. Sometimes I think too much. This is the thought I generally have at about 1am when I am wrestling with busy brain syndrome and cannot fall asleep. Here are a couple of thoughts kicking around in my head at this nightly hour.

What one sentence would you pass on in the event of a cataclysm that contained the most information with the fewest words, what would I say? Or what image of mine would I single out?”

“Is creating art a response to our own knowledge of our mortality?”

“If time is a human construct, how would we abandoning it and how would that change the way we lived?”

“I wonder what the post will bring tomorrow.”

And the list goes on.

This is a very long-winded introduction to me saying that photography is where I try to think the least. I try not to put thought into my images but rather try to put my feelings or emotions into them. Put another way, I try to make images based on what I am feeling rather than what I am thinking. I don’t know if this is to give my brain a rest or to give me a rest from my brain. A bit of both I would guess.

For the most part this works really well for me. I have become good at disengaging from my thoughts while I am out photographing.  I don’t like listening to music while I photograph either because it affects how I feel, which then affects how I photograph. For me it is enough to be there in a moment responding to subtle currents within me that I will struggle with later to put a finger on.

In fact, this is where my problems usually arise: when I try to think about my photos after the fact and figure them out. Generally I don’t do this too much. The photos are not products of thought, but rather visual translations of moods or feelings passing through me in a particular place or at some particular time. Thought doesn’t typically enter into that equation and therefore makes for an awkward fit I have found when forcibly injected into it later.

Anyhow, even now I am applying more thought to this image than I should, but sometimes I find the thinking “out load” to be an effective means of getting it out of my head.

That and I do like doing the writing just for the practice.

So don’t fret if you cannot explain your photos, or if you worry about the perceived lack of thought in them. Some photos are meant to embody a great deal of thought, but not all images. It is ok to make images that cannot be so intellectually described or explained. It is ok to make images on hunches, feelings, intuition, or the like. And it is ok to not understand your own images after you have made them. In fact, I rather enjoy it at times – the mystery of it all.

So here you go. Hopefully nothing I said gets you to thinking too much and keeps you awake tonight.

A Notion Of Time

Time is a subject that fascinates me. It is a common theme, in some fashion, in much of my photography. As such, birthdays in particular are a day that reminds us of time. Many of us handle this reminder in various ways. Some dive in and celebrate the anniversary of their birth. Others want to avoid the attention and any thoughts regarding how this day marks the passing of our lives. Some don’t much care at all whether it is today or tomorrow. We all handle time differently but we all play by the same rules. That is what fascinates me: this notion of time we have.

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Somewhere I got old enough to realise that the future is not infinite for me, thus every day is a gift in that regard. This does add certain poignancy to each passing day and I sometimes wonder at the bliss of ignorance.

Appreciation Of Self

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So “Who is your favourite photographer?” Historically that answer shifted quite a bit for me, depending on the day or the mood or which books I had recently flipped through. It was a complicated question to answer. But then I simplified it and changed the answer to “myself”. It came in a moment of inspiration, really. And without disrespect to the many incredible photographers out there, my favourite really ought to be myself. Sure, maybe this answer is implied in the question, as in “Who (besides yourself) is your favourite photographer?” But if so, I think it might have become so implied that many of us don’t even consider it as a possible answer. Have you ever considered yourself as your favourite photographer? And why shouldn’t you be? I would argue that many of the struggles that photographers go through internally stems from them not thinking highly enough of their own work. Learn to love your photography for if you do, you will do it longer, harder, and more frequently. And if you do those things, success will come naturally. But still I think many struggle with the concept of liking their work, or being their favourite photographer.

Being your own favourite photographer is not arrogant. Arrogance is when you think you are a better photographer than others. Or a more important photographer. Being your favourite photographer doesn’t have to involve thinking you are better than another, it just has to mean you like your own work the best. Since favouring is a matter of opinion and personal taste, shouldn’t your own work match your own personal taste the best?

Being your own favourite photographer doesn’t mean you necessarily think your work is good, it just means you like it the best.

Maybe your work is good and you like it the best, or maybe you know it isn’t terribly good but you still love it anyway. Separate the enjoyment of your work from the evaluation of how good it is or isn’t. Then you can focus on enjoying your photography and worry less about how good it is or is not. Because if you focus on enjoying it, you will tend to approach it in ways that cause it to get better.

This may be easier said than done, and to do that you will have to make a conscious effort. It will take work. But it starts with little steps.

Start by thinking of yourself as your own favourite photographer.

Just try it.