Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Thoughts on Where I am Today, Photographically Speaking

I read Tommy Blogs. Tommy has made three simple but very challenging New Years Resolutions. One of them is making a photograph everyday.

I've played around with this idea myself but I've never been able to stick to it for very long. But after I started thinking about it again for 2006, I started finding all kinds of encouragement from the "universe." I read this quote by Somerset Maugham (although I haven't been able to verify it.) Just substitute the word Photographing for Writing.

"Writing everyday is no guarantee that you will make a masterpiece. But you will never make a masterpiece if you don't write everyday."

I picked up an old copy of Lenswork magazine (No. 47 June-Jul 2003) to thumb through before going to sleep. There was an article by the Editor, Brooks Jensen, titled Photography as a Verb. In the article Jensen says that he became a better photographer after he learned the secret for success. Make lots of photographs. He learned this from Ted Orland and David Bales in their book Art and Fear.

Art and Fear is one of my favorite books too and this made me remember one of the stories from the book. A pottery class was divided into two groups. They were told that one group would be graded on the amount of work they turned out and the other group was told that they only had to have one perfect pot. At the end of the semester the group that had made the most pots also made the best pots. Orland and Bayles were telling the readers that producing lots of work usually also produces better work. Certainly taking a photograph a day keeps you working consistently.

So just when I'm thinking that I should be doing a photo-a-day I also read in Jensen's article, "Making random artwork on a random schedule for random purposes ends in random results." Is that what I had in 2005? Random Results? I made a lot of photographs. I looked back over my digital files. I have 127 folders of images. Some folders may only have 10-15 images but some are large folders with more than 70 image files. On average I shot about every third day of the year.

I'm asking myself, what did I learn? What did I accomplish? I learned a lot about shooting with a digital camera. I learned a lot about using Photoshop. I learned a lot more about shooting food, shooting at night and shooting the interior of houses. I put some of this work in galleries on Pbase or Flickr but that doesn't seem like an end result or an accomplishment. I learned from it but the work seems to be just hanging there in cyberspace. Suddenly I realized that I have unfinished business from 2005. The circle isn't closed for me until I have made prints. So in 2006, I will make some portfolios from this work.

This doesn't mean that I'm not going to be carrying the camera with me most days though. Because the learning experiences in 2005 came about because I had the camera with me and I made images. In a sense they were random images, with random results but they opened my eyes to new possibilities.

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