Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Three factors

I've been thinking about my photography of late, namely focusing on why I don't photograph enough. I boiled it down to three factors around one basic premise. It's one thing to go out and photograph because it's something to do, and it's another to plug your artistic and technical brain in too, but it's altogether different when you have committment to your photography with passion, conviction and motivation for a project or focus with your photography.

It's the old idea of "added value" for yourself and your work. Committment to your work changes everything in yourself and the work. And looking back on my photography I seem to have it for awhile, often working on them for awhile but quitting after sometime to do something else or life gets in the way. And that's what I was wondering about. I have some on-going projects and get back to them from time to time, but mostly I just like to wander around and take photos. When I do get back to the project(s) I usually find I have to start over to understand what I was doing and had planned, and often find myself redoing much if not all of it.

I'm not alone with this perspective, very few photographers are consistent in their projects, and those who have projects aren't usually working on them consistently let alone constantly. It's human nature, few people are so focused in their life and work to just focus on a few projects. While we may work on them for periods of time over time, sometimes years or even decades between time on some, we tend to find new projects or interests in our travels through life. Something new seems to always attract our attention.

So why is this? Just saying human nature isn't really an answer, not even an explanation, but maybe just an excuse? So, why can't be find committment in our work? It's it an evolutionary artifact of our being? Or something of late from the ever increasing pressure from technology to always find something new? And in photography, hasn't it taken another step with the ever improving technology? What happened to just being a photographer? And why are we too often defined by our equipment than our work, and especially our committment to our photography?

While thinking about this I keep a list of places and ideas for my photography. It gets longer every week and every week I get a few of them started or even done (smaller projects). I seem to keep finding new ideas for projects. So why can't I focus on a few, especially since it's what Sam Abell recommends for part-time photographers, that is find a few personal projects and focus on them during your life with passion, conviction and motivation, simply to commit to it with your heart and mind?

I keep asking myself, only to find my attention wanders after awhile working on a project. It's part of my nature and personality, to keep looking for something new with what I have done. Like the photo, I saw it in a window of a Mexican restaurant while walking to downtown Seattle. We like to have a lot of peppers for variety?


  1. Why do all projects need to come to a final conclusion? Unless I misread your comments, it seems fine to revisit projects from time to time. Time, opportunity, material, motivation, inspiration, and perspect all play a part. The important thing would seem to be remaining occupied. When is a project every really finished? Some painter somewhere once said the most difficult part of painting is knowing at what point to call it good. Fortunately, projects offer an endless canvans on which to work.

  2. Excellent point. How many writers have unfinished books? How many PhD dissertations end in mid-work never to see completion? How many photographers have unfinished portfolios, ideas they started with some photos and scribbled notes of things to do and places to go?

    Sometimes the interest or circumstances just fade away, to collect dust in a room and in your mind. My first MS thesis failed when it was nearly three quarters done for the one factor I didn't realize. People weren't cooperating with my research, and without their involvement, I couldn't finish the analysis and write the conclusion.

    After a few months of frustration I found a job and went on with my life. I discovered another thesis topic a few years later using research from work, and got the thesis approved for the degree. So, sometimes it's best to let things collect dust.