Monday, January 7, 2008

Mental Excercises

While I wrote about taking mental respites from photography, I also do mental exercises to get back into life and my photography. Not just pick up the camera when I go places and takes some photos, but putting myself back into focusing and challenging myself to do good photography. And when I get home, I download the images and let them sit for a day or so.

You see, I've learned never review your images immediately. I'm not a good judge of images so soon. I can notice some one I really like, but overall, I need some distance between the time I took them and the time I review them. This way I've cleared my mind of why I took them, and while I look at some with a "WTF" expression, I often find some that are far better than I first realized.

And so where does this lead? Well, take the example of my toaster. It's been on my list of things to photograph, mostly to document it and to see how I can do. Being an ordinary photographer who photographs what I see, it's hard for me to imagine seeing a photograph. Also, I either see the big picture or the small details. I miss the stuff in between.

It's how each of us mentally work and think. I write the same way, great at abstracts and specific detail stuff, but problems with the intermediate stuff. And I'm a bad organizer. My thesis Chairman was great at these and taught me to do these with my thesis. But I haven't figured it out with my photography, so I try to find simple things to challenge myself to learn. And badly most of the time.

So, the toaster is the test. But after the first images I decided I need to relearn lighting, or better learn lighting, techniques. So, that's what I'm doing while I work on setting the makeshift studio, formerly the dining room, for some photo experiments. And that's one way I get mentally back into photography, exploring an idea, which leads to another, and some work. And that leads to more photography.

It's the spiral effect. Either you're spiraling up or down, and if down, first you have to stop to level off into a neutral mode before you can even start the upward spiral from where you're at in your downward spiral. For me, though, sometimes I have to spiral down in a free fall so far until I find the bottom to stop the momentum of going down. The bottom stops anything and everything.

And when I get there, I can reestablish my view of the world and myself. And surprisingly, going up is simply a step forward. It's the idea it's easier to see where you're at and turn around when you're standing still than running forward. And I can simply go forward in a new direction. I don't look back, only ahead. And the light in the world and my photography.

And on the list after the toaster are other projects, to get the cameras out into the world doing what I love to do, photography the ordinary in the way I see it. Nothing fancy or even all that great, just mine. And that's all life can ask of anyone, do what you can where you are with what you have.

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