Sometimes all we can do is put ourselves in a place where something is bound to happen and wait.
In my last post I wrote about working through the dry spells that I think all artists must experience; I know I do. That feeling that we aren’t seeing images, and worse, we start to feel like we never will again. I find myself trying to force photographs to happen and the result is almost always crap. It doesn’t mean that I should just sit at home with the lights out and wait for a change in the Seasons, after all I would have no chance to make photographs if I didn’t keep trying. What I do have to do is continue to place myself and my camera in situations that are likely to inspire. Sometimes it means revisiting a subject where I have had success before, to see it again under different light. Sometimes the answer is a trip to a new location, though I have found in the past that is not a real solution, it’s a temporary fix. It doesn’t address the root issue that what is missing is something in me, not what is in front of the camera. It is the difference between forcing images, using tricks of the craft and new a new location, and being receptive to good images in the first place.
In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” Robert M. Pirsig quotes the instructions for assembling a new bike. “Step one, be sure your mind is right”. I believe this goes for photographers too. How can we make good photographs if we don’t understand what we are trying to accomplish? If all we want is to make pretty pictures most modern cameras are capable of that with nothing more than a push of a button. Just aim it in the right direction. The result will be as heartless as the inside of your camera. But if your desire is to make photographs or art that speaks to people then work harder on understanding yourself and what you have to say than on finding a better camera or lens. The trouble of course, is that kind of work is much harder. There are lots of places on the internet where you can learn the mechanics of photography, not so many that guide us to better self understanding. That’s the problem I think. First we concentrate on our techique, later we concentrate on seeing, improving our vision as artists. Only lastly do we realize the importance of insight, the thing that takes longest to learn.