Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25, 2014

Fear can motivate or cripple you.  What we fear most of the time is criticism of ourselves. Giving something freely to the external world and then having that something made fun of or destroyed by analysis is detrimental to growth and craftsmanship.  We must, in order to succeed in any field of study we love, look at ourselves and our feelings toward the world.  Through this examination we find out which feelings have been conditioned in us through the years.  Which thoughts and ideas now control us and make us fearful to expand our lives, our horizons and move past what others think we should be and what they think we should do.

Seamus Heaney wrote concerning how he found his poetic voice, "I was in love with words themselves, but had no sense of a poem as a whole structure and no experience of how the successful achievement of a poem could be a stepping-stone in your life."  Heaney goes on to say, "that his first poems were trial pieces, little inept designs in imitation of the masters fluent interlacing patterns, heavy handed clues to the whole craft."

When you first start in photography we learn through experimentation.  We see great photos and we try and imitate them because we want to know how those images were made. Through this process of trial and error we forge past our own stunted growth and other people's preconceptions of our work. We must keep learning and evolving in our chosen field of photography and not allow others to dictate to us how and what we should photograph.

Technique is the math that creates formulas you can trust and explore without feeling desperate.  It gives you confidence that you are in control and not allowing your subject to hide and escape your grasp. 

We learn our craft initially by doing it. We should always be looking for subjects that appeals to some deeper level and brings out an emotional response in us.  We imitate the imagery we see.  If we only see our friends face book snap shots, more likely than not, we will produce subjects in a similar vein and we won't stir the waters, the undercurrents of our inner life that is waiting to be explored.

By shooting as much as possible, you sharpen your photographic eye for those moments that just seem to manifest themselves within seconds before your camera. Your reflexes are tuned in and ready for anything.  Your camera controls are known and your exposure appropriate for the light. This helps you make those quick decisions on timing your exposure to create special imagery. Sports photographers have this deep instinctive ability to be in the right place at the right time along the sidelines.  War photographers have the ability to discover in chaos those moments that surge through the violence that seem to tell the whole story in a single moment. What gives them the edge is doing it. 

Intuition is fined tuned by action.  Getting out there each day and seeing the world with fresh eyes. Creating images with purpose and meaning. 

When we study the history of photography, we find early masters of the craft struggling to find an art form worthy of expression.  Battle lines were drawn between photographers that believed in the pure image without any manipulation whatsoever and the so called artificial images that were created using other techniques that were more appropriate in drawing or painting.  Nowadays, we have a battle between the over saturated image (social media) market place exposing to the world people's mundane outer lives vs the photographers that want to step back from this explosion of imagery and reconnect with the reason they got into photography in the first place; taking meaningful images that can affect the viewer on a deeper level than the evening police blotter.  It seems in today's media frenzy just being seen is the final truth that makes are lives meaningful.

We are missing the mystery of the underlying reality in which our memories and experiences combine to create the ground work for expressing deep feelings through composition, subject, perspective, etc..

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

December 24, 2013

How do we discover the world outside of ourselves?   How do we make this outer reality known to us and have a reasonable assurance that others share the same outer world we think is there? The environment we are raised in dictates alot of our inner behavior toward this shared reality we inhabit. We are bottle fed patterns of behavior;  a smile is pleasant,  a raised voice scares us and hooks us to a bad feeling,  we learn to hold our parents hand for safety.  We accept this physical world as fact not fiction.  As we gain more knowledge and experience, we begin to shift our perceptions more inward and toward our reactions to things outside of ourselves.

These inner reactions relate to an outside force that is stagnating our creativity.  We begin the long journey of self discovery and how we can imprint on the outside world our perceptions, our feelings and how this can change others behavior toward us,  ultimately how we can connect with others through our own experiences manifested through art..

Through time, we become quick to size up situations and we gain intuition to skip alot of once necessary clues in order to make judgements, which could mean the difference between life and death or just a bruised heart.

In everyday life, this can be a good thing, but I don't think it is necessarily good when you are creating imagery with meaning.  The mechanical aspects of photography are getting easier by the day, but the the intent in your subject selection and your final image is still complicated, frustrating, and necessary.  We must think before we press the shutter.

What drives you to photograph?  If you allow your negative patterns (conditioned responses to outer stimulus) to inhibit your ability to react, if you internalize this negativity, you could look at a scene and think it could be better and then move on. What you have accomplished is to ignore the present subject and miss an opportunity to make something from it.  Obviously, their are times you just don't feel it and have lost interest and are tired of the struggle to create, but other times by pushing yourself just alittle more, trusting your intuition, you can discover a deeper  reaction to your subject that was really there, but remained hidden until you pushed through your own inner barriers.

We have all felt the evil eye of negative comments about us, our appearance, our friends we keep, choices we make. The same is true when you show someone an image you created.  This image says something about you whether you realize it or not.  A negative comment can sting and create future barriers to your creative will.  You must fight through the negative and grow from each personal image you take and begin to understand why you have become attracted to certain subject matter and not others.  By exploring your inner world, you will find that once you overcome your trepidation to exhibit your work you can get to a better place of confidence.  With positive feedback from trusted voices, we grow in our ability to act and not over think each programed feeling toward the outer world. We have all taken a picture of something that we felt was a great subject and had great meaning to us as we viewed it through the view finder.  But, when we see the final image, we look at it again and wonder, "what was I thinking?".  The subject is too vague and too cerebral to have any purpose.  But so what? By making that exposure you felt something. You moved outside your restrictions and were able to find some kind of purpose for taking that image. That is a good thing, a first step toward image knowledge. The next subject will be looked at a little differently with more knowledge and experience.

The first image I remember shooting was a glove laying in the middle of a country road.  The thing that drew me to this subject was its isolation and the feeling of abandonment that was present.  I pulled off to the side of the road and went back to take the image.  When I got close to the glove I noticed that the middle finger on the glove was raised, the glove was telling me to F... off.  I smiled and knew photography was going to fun.