Enlightenment, Mastery, Growth, Punishment
A couple of recent threads have got me thinking about these issues -- specifically in terms of the motivations for my own photography. My mind has been repeatedly looping over the issues of desire for certainty versus uncertainty, such as in "correct" exposure and such versus finding new, ever-more-perceptive pictures. Brooding on questions about significance of the enterprise and an interest in my own growth not only as a photographer, but: through observation of the world (and other people's photos, perhaps), growth as a person. Pondering about how each person has a different balance of these desires, a balance that underlies the work and guides every decision (photographically -- but otherwise too).
Most important to me just now have been questions about growth, about self-assessment against where I was a year ago, five years, twenty. In which ways have I gotten better, in which ways have I slipped instead? Do the course of my improvements align with my aspirations, with my circumstance, my personality? How does this manifest itself in the pictures? Is a predictable outcome more important, or a well-received one, or a personal sense of resonance regardless of external acceptance? Can these feelings be focused toward action? Which parts are ends, which ones beginnings? Are the best pictures ahead or behind, and why? How can I steer that?
Okay, it's late at night, I may be rambling -- but do others find themselves similarly plagued?
In what ways do you feel you are a better (or different) photographer than you were one year ago (or ten)? Is it deliberate, conscious, or just what happens subconsciously? How do you feel about the change, if any?
God - I've been through so many different experiences and changes since I started out! I hit the ground running REALLY hard when I was 17 or so. In my own introspection - I think, I became far more self-conscious and concerned with fashionable 'formatting' and subject matter while in art school. Then I studied architecture for a bunch of years - and I think that gave me a kind of insane discipline - and took away the fear of really examining things - to not be afraid of reworking a subject and keeping it true to it's intent. I think, only now, am I at a point that I can return to the simplicity and naïvete of the time when I was just starting out. But maybe in an informed, PERHAPS more sophisticated way (then again - maybe it's just an illusion/fantasy). I think I'm the better off for it. But time will tell.
I don't see how you can be human and not ask yourself questions like those.
Quite. But as I get older I find that I'm getting (slightly) better at not worrying about things and a lot better at avoiding Zone-style obsessiveness.
Originally Posted by Sparky
For the former, Churchill reputedly said in his old age, "I have had a lot of trouble in my life, most of which never happened."
For the latter, I see how many obsessives make great pictures, and I see how many ignoramuses make great pictures, and the balance seems surprisingly often to be on the side of the ignoramuses. This is because they take pictures rather than worrying about (or indeed knowing the meaning of) acutance or Zone placement.
As a result I can't bring myself to believe in searching for more precision than is needed (and indeed on occasion, in more precision than actually exists).
Let me think ... in no more than three words?
Originally Posted by bjorke
It will take a few more.
"Better"... I have *no* idea. I have been struggling with the concepts of rank - "Poor, so-so, good, better, best, outstanding ... whoo-hoo!!" for years. I still have *no* clue. I'm no closer to resolving that than when I first started.
"Different"... Yes, ... and No. I hear that all the cells that make up our bodies "wear out" and are eventually replaced. Physically, that would leave us all with "different" bodies. Aesthetically ... somewhere between "yes" and "no". I think we are all products of our experiences - some having more effect on us than others. In some ways/ degrees I have changed - in other ways, I have not.
A separate question, really ... my WORK has changed - definitely.
"Deliberate"... In some areas, yes. I've certainly deliberately tried "different" things. Aesthetically... no. I think that by FAR, the changes have been subconscious.
Now - where was I? Oh, yeah ... "How do I feel about the change?"
OK, I guess. Certainly better than if there was no change at all.
Am I satisfied with my progress? Not really.
Do I wish I had done more? Yes, definitely.
I still love doing photography/ art. Feels a LOT better than NOT doing.
Over the years, I thnk I have learned one major lesson - NOT to "brood" about things I cannot control.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
In the context of my having returned to "serious" photography about 12 years ago after 20 years of "retirement" doing essentially just snapshots, what has happened to me in the past year is that I came to the end of a period of using 4x5" for everything and realized that my 35mm work had more spontaneity and energy, which is really my priority right now rather than the ultimate in technical perfection.
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Have at it, David!! Good luck. Good to hear.
I have greater understanding and control of the science of photography(chemistry, metering Etc...) than I did a few years ago. This has given me greater freedom in creating art in that I don't need to think about the technical end like I did.
DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
At one time I wanted to set the world on fire.
Now I'm just careful that I don't set myself on fire.
I think a lot of introspection is a result of eruptions in our lives that have nothing to do with photography. It concerns age, family or lack of it, health, and love interests.
I hit plateaus all the time in photography. But at this point I just ride them out and remain open to what smacks me in the face as inspiration in the future.
I quit overthinking. Perhaps its shows. But I don't care.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
My experience has been somewhat similar. I returned to photography about two years ago after almost 20 years of snapshot only type shooting. Prior to that I had been involved at a professional level primarily in commercial (product) and portrait work. In the first six months after my return I amassed quite a selection of cameras in the three formats that most interested me (4x5",120 and 35mm). I was under the impression that I could just take up where I had left off. Perhaps this would be true for someone else but in my case I found that photography is NOT like riding a bicycle. The results were humbling. After two or three disappointing experiences I realized that I would be better served assuming that I knew very little of value and proceed from that point. This attitude has produced (in my opinion) much better results. I think my projects through more completely and try to assume nothing.
I know what I want. Now I am rediscovering the means to produce that which I desire. Of late I have been working primarily in the 6x4.5 format with occasional use of my 35mm cameras as well. The 4x5" has not seen much use of late. It is probably my favorite format but I feel I must do quite a bit more "grunt" work before I am ready to use the format to its full potential.
Photography happens 1/60th of a second at a time so we don't have to be THAT neurotic. But we do have to keep making pictures. And if we are making pictures of what we care about, that solves a lot of the 'growth thing'. But then it boils down to living a life we want. Even a conceptual, intellectual, ironic, or symbolic form, photography just documents the life we lead.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"