Arriving Somewhere

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I’ve got a few thoughts kicking around my head today but I am going to try to keep it tied down to just one or two. Recognition… or fame… or acclaim, or whathaveyou.

I admit that I have often struggled with the recognition that my photography earns me. In one way I have the opposite challenge of many, where they struggle when they don’t get enough recognition I often struggle with the notion that nearly any recognition is too much attention. It seems a weird thing, I know, and I have often pondered on it. I think it comes from a couple of reasons. The first is that recognition isn’t my goal. It is not what I am after when I put my images in front of an audience, so when that is what I get in return it feels inappropriate somehow. I do appreciate the giving of recognition. I honestly appreciate someone caring enough to pass on a compliment or to offer praise, I realise where that is coming from and I think that is a good thing. But I guess I put my images out there in the world not to earn that or collect it. It is if random passers-by on the street stopped and offered you money. Sure, it’s cool, but it would also  make you feel weird.

So why put my photography out in front of an audience then, if not for that recognition? I think I like doing it because I like the community of photographers, and what we are collectively capable of, and I want to do my part in making that collective bigger and better. I like putting my work out there, with my written thoughts, because I know it is capable of inspiring or motivating or enlightening, and that the ripples caused by those things will lead to the making of brilliant photos by others. I like enabling and encouraging and watching those I know grow and succeed and reach new heights. That is a cool thing.

But here is where a sort of weird stream of thought might start to sound even more strange. In a certain way, the recognition for the pictures is hard for me to comprehend because to a large degree I don’t care about the pictures I make. I do, a little. But not a lot. And here is what I mean by that.

Draw a line representing a journey. At one end, the beginning, you sitting at home with the cameras tucked away. Photography is not near at hand and it is just an abstract idea of something to do. As you move along this line you progress from that beginning point to being out looking, to finding, to creating, to returning home, to developing the film and seeing the negs for the first time, to scanning them, to printing them, maybe to publishing them at the very opposite end of that line. Now, different photographers will put their emphasis point at different spots on this line. I know some who would place it at the publication spot. Everything they do is toward the goal of having the work published or displayed in a gallery or similar. Some would place there point of emphasis at the print stage. They make the prints and they are happy. I know some whose point would even fall far to the left, much closer to the beginning. What they love is the planning, even if the execution never fully materialises. My point is somewhere between the looking and the creation. That is the peak of my hill, so to speak. My best moment of photography is that grey zone between searching and finding. The farther away from that spot I move, the less excited I am. I have noticed this about myself for a while now. I love seeing my negs developed and while I enjoy seeing the initial proof prints or scans quite a bit, it is not quite as exciting as the first glimpse of developed film. I am moderate good about getting my choice images scanned, but I wouldn’t say it excites me. I’ll do a somewhat decent job of editing, but my interest is really waning at this point. I only print when I am about to change my home display. I have sometimes remarked that I am a photographer who just happens to make pictures. Or that my favourite part is the process versus the results. All this I think is circling this notion that the most important part for me is somewhere well before a physical artefact ever gets made and is even earlier than the creation of the image itself.

What spurred these thoughts? Well, my mind is often tumbling something around regarding my photography. I like to think about it. Not as a problem to be solved, I don’t ever want to fix it, it might only make it worse. But I do enjoy the mental engagement, so I ponder when I can.

If I was going to offer a moral to this story, and caution to any who would be brave enough to accept such from this writing, it would be to realise that it is ok for you to choose any point on that spectrum/line/journey/process as what is most important to you, but let it be your choice and not a choice you are adopting from the beliefs of those around you. If the images are important to you, great. If it is making prints, great. If it is publication, great. If it is sketching and daydreaming ideas to turn into photos, great. If it is collecting the gear that you swear you will use… someday, great. There is no wrong answer here for you other than any answer that is not your own, but rather adopted from somewhere else. That is all I think I have right now. I’m sure you’ll hear more from me soon enough.

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Simple Pleassures

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Over the past couple of years, my appreciation for the simplicity with which the world is rendered by black and white film has grown. I have exposed many a roll of b&w over the years, but more often I find myself appreciating how much quieter black and white is. Sure, the scenes can still be dramatic, but there can sometimes be a brashness to colour that I don’t seem to find as much in black and white film. It makes for a simpler, quieter world…. at least how I use it. And I guess that is the chicken meeting the egg. Is the world really that much softer of personality in black and white, or do I see and record such a world when I am in a black and white film mentality? Am I finding what I seek, or seeking what I find?

There is something to be said about how a film or a lens or a camera influences and feeds how you think, look and photograph. The technical qualities of a specific camera, or roll of black and white film aside, it is important to be aware of the mental process that is engaged when using a certain piece of equipment.

Is the world simpler and quieter in black and white, or do I make it thus because I was in a mood to go looking for it and chose the right equipment to pursue that? Yes and yes and sometimes no.

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Spectrum

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True to my style I will try to do something new photographically on subsequent visits to a well explored location. While not technically a new technique for me, I decided to work on some infrared photography, particularly in the Hasselblad. It has been a while since I have done much infrared and even longer since I have done much in 120. And I believe I could count the number of rolls of infrared I had shot in 120 on one hand. So that was the direction I went in.

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On a related note, this will not be the last infrared you see from me this year but the odds are decent that the next images you see will be in full colour. But that is all the tease I am giving you for now.

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Haunts Of Ancient Peace

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The goal isn’t the pictures… it isn’t even to make the pictures. The photographs just happen and are a by-product of what I am really doing.

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But what exactly is that? I don’t know that I can adequately explain it. I suppose in a certain sense my pictures tell that story, but I think sometimes the audience tends to fixate on the picture itself, the artefact or object, and not the underlying reasons for that image’s existence. I don’t think I share images because I want to share the image. In a weird way I don’t really care about the picture. It is far less important to me than why I made the picture, and I suppose that is what I try to share when I share images. It is also why I am never quite comfortable accepting praise regarding the images I make. I appreciate the thoughts behind it, but it feels like it either misses the point that was driving me, or subverts the meaning of what I was doing slightly. If that makes any sense. There is something deeply spiritual for me when I stand there in ancient woods. I can talk about it, or write about it (as these are natural things to want to do when something moves you on such a level) but one of the other forms of communication I am effective at is photography, so it is also natural for me to want to communicate via imagery. The photograph is just the vehicle. But if you were to linger a bit more on the spiritual aspect of it, I could comment that the photograph is an idol of sorts, and the worship of an idol versus that larger entity which the idol represents… Yes, I know, it is all a bit out there and weird to describe it this way, but at the moment they are the best words I have to describe something whose description has long eluded me. I am not critical of enjoying a photograph, but at the same time I am aware that there is something much better worth admiring above and beyond that photograph. At least that is how I feel when it comes to my photographs.

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These are the days, the time is now

There is no past, there’s only future

There’s only here, there’s only now

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/

Berlin Kino 400 or The Joy Of The Delay

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I tell people that I like film photography because I don’t feel the pressure to share the results immediately. I like taking my time. I also like thinking about what I am doing or have done. I love spending time with my images and as such that means sometimes they don’t get shared for weeks, months or years. These images are about three months old now. I just finished this first roll of Berlin Kino 400 Black and White Film. Developed in Adox FX-39 and then file it until I am ready. There are several advantages to this. I find that whenever I allow an image, or its idea, to matriculate naturally through my consciousness that the end result is always better. It is when I am in a hurry to share something, and therefore put less time into thinking about it and what it means or stands for, that the results are flatter. But another advantage is it allows me to draw out experiences like this. As my memory of the place matures and evolves or even degrades, the photos can come back in to fill in the gaps or liven of up the colours of the memory. But mostly I just like having the time to figure out my own images and settle on what their value to me is. And sometimes this does take a little while to do. But I also think, especially when social media is involved, it really helps to have that stuff figured out and answered before you put it out there in front of that wider audience.

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http://www.berndkugow.photos/