I read an article a little while back that posited that being able to endure boredom was one of the biggest challenges we face in our work lives and that being able to endure boredom at work was becoming a key to career success. (Sorry don't remember where I saw it.)
I know this has played out in my own life over and over. Once I have grown creatively/professionally/technically to a point where I've mastered each the various crafts/skills/task in my life/work (most being non-photographic) my interest in them tends to wane. I need creative challenge/growth to maintain my interest. I've given up on both failing and successful career paths to improve my life.
Specifically related to HCB's choice to switch, I fully empathize with him. I have experimented a bit with painting and drawing and it has some very distinct creative advantages over photography, like contrast and exposure controls, there are simply no burnt highlights or blocked shadows unless I paint them that way. Being able to choose the color and brightness at will between canvass white and the black of the paint allows adjustment of the subject matter at will regardless of reality, the mood/feel of a piece can be changed from right to left at my whim, the laws of physics don't apply to the subject matter/ideas I might choose to paint, the list goes on but you get the idea.
I just find it peculiar that someone would spend almost his entire creative period (we're talking decades here) in one discipline and then rather simply dismiss it as 'only a path' to the discipline he adopts 'late' in life; the one that really counts. I'm sure my opinion is colored by my not liking all that much of Bresson's photography, and I certainly don't care for the cult of personality that has grown up around him. I think he had a good streak of arrogance-of-fame in him. <shrug>. About painting per se, I think people should paint if they want to, if they want to. My remarks are directed towards the Castelli type of business arrogance being transferred to the media being represented. Like in the way the cognoscenti dismissed Grandma Moses. That's why I wrote 'Painting' rather than 'painting'. As an aside, I too have a tendency to become bored with that at which I've become good (by some measure). It's led to a rather checkered career; bad thing, if I measured myself by my career. Photography has given me lots of space before I could consider myself good.
I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
- Garry Winogrand