Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Heart and vision
I recently wrote two essays on why photography is a struggle for me, and about presence in photography. It's not that I lose presence when photographing, although we all have bad days or days my brain isn't fully plugged in, it's that I lose heart or can't find vision in my photography.
You see those are the two essential ingredients in anyone's photography. And while the best will get by with good or better work on the bad or off days, the rest of us will simply produce crap, or fall below a threshold where we just quit. It's why I have taken hiatuses from photoraphy for periods where I either see something worth photographing but don't have the interest or have the interest but can't see anything.
The former is often overcome by simply taking the camera with him with the hope I pick it up, and after some time often do and get back into the work. The latter is harder to overcome, as you can try and try, but the results just aren't there. I can walk around taking hundreds of photographs, and reviewing them wonder what I was thinking and doing. Nothing makes sense. In large format photography, it's easy, you simply have to see the image before you even open the camera bag, but in digital, people will advise you to just shoot.
Well, that's often not good advice because it can produces a lot of images and make you feel worse than before. But it can help when you produce some good shots or ones that trigger your vision again. It's a gamble, and if you keep an open and objective mind about your work, it does work. Even for me sometimes. I've taken to walking around the neighborhood looking for urban nature images, but don't mind if they don't work.
For me, and maybe for many other photographers, I'm not consistently driven to be a photographer the way many professionals are, and I admire and respect them for their drive. I have lapses of heart and vision, sometimes from my Dysthymia, sometimes from life - something we all can't run away from, and sometimes it just happens.
I do know eventually the heart and vision returns and it's why the camera bags sit ready to go in the office near the door. It's just a matter of picking them up with a list of places to go or an idea in mind. The rest just happens.
And the photo? Well, while we may like seeing this sign on our travels, it's not the one we want to see on the road of life, because someone likely standing just down the road with bad news, and on the path of our passions in life, for they mean we lost the heart that drives our vision.