I’ve been in a bit of a slump for a while now – it has not been pretty. I would go out shooting and, wanting desperately to come back with something, I would take too many shots, or not think about the shots I was taking, or rush, or force, you name it. And that hardly helped things. When I got home and uploaded the photographs, of course they would be dreadful, leading to thoughts like, I don’t have it, I’ve lost it, I’m no good at this. Silly, yes – but don’t tell me you haven’t been there. (more…)
At the beginning of this year, I had a rough plan of some things I wanted to accomplish and try to do this year – one was to create a true website to feature my work. I considered a few possibilities. Squarespace was one that kept popping up as an excellent option so I spent a rainy Saturday playing around with it. They offer a two week trial, a variety of pricing options and have recently added a commerce feature. The setup was fairly easy to accomplish – the tweaking and getting it the way I’d like it a bit more frustrating. That’s probably more me than Squarespace – trying to do too much with it, not knowing enough to be able to make the modifications I’d like. (I only recently discovered the difference between https and http!) The website remains a work in progress but I’d love it if you would take a look and let me know what you think. Feedback and suggestions are always welcome!
Several weeks ago, I was preparing to travel to Colorado – part family visit, part photography. I had a simple plan – relax and enjoy – and one not so small goal – return with at least one image that I loved. The weather conspired against me, almost every day – blizzards, snow, ferocious winds, little to no visibility. I changed my ‘plan’ numerous times, sometimes more than once in a day. I ended up with one afternoon of shooting at these dunes. I wanted more, much more. It was not to be, not this trip.
I had to remind myself of my one goal – one photograph that I loved. In that, the trip was successful, even wildly so – there are perhaps five or six that I’m thrilled with. The lead photograph here is just one of them.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been busy with a couple of other projects, more on that later.
March was a tough month – and it is behind me now. Off for a week of shooting – hope to see something like this while I’m gone. It’s always good to have a plan for these things. I have a simple one – relax and enjoy the experience. My dream – come home with one photograph I fall in love with. I’ll keep you posted.
Well, I certainly did not intend to be ‘missing’ as long as I have. Two things to say about that – one, life has a way of throwing you things you did not expect, and two, be sure to backup your important files. My backup system, such that is, saved me, though I need to find a more elegant solution. Anyone have a solution that works well for you? And doesn’t make your head spin trying to keep up with it?
. . . is part of the process, no? I have just been through a second portfolio process, this one a bit more rigorous than last year. If you have never attempted a project such as this – putting together a body of work, 10 to 15 images that work together – I highly recommend it. Going through candidate images, figuring out which ones work (and why), which ones don’t (and why) is incredibly illuminating. It also felt almost impossibly difficult at times. Having ‘finished,’ I learned something I was not expecting – it has changed how I shoot. Understanding more critically why other, earlier shots did not succeed as well as I hoped has helped me improve what I do in the field. It makes sense that this would happen, I simply had not thought about it before putting together this portfolio.
This particular portfolio is for a local gallery here, a jury process to be accepted as an Associate Artist. I believe I’ve put together a strong submission – and even if I’m not accepted, I already have my reward.
Several months ago, I wrote about an exhibit – Faking It: Life Before Photoshop – that prompted a heated (and fruitless) discussion with a friend and some useful soul-searching on my part. I was reminded of it again for two reasons – one, the exhibit is now here in the District of Columbia and two, the recent controversy surrounding some prize-winning photographs. I said then that the question of whether or not our photographs are ‘manipulated’ is a bogus question, confusing more than it illuminates. Even the word we use is loaded with a negative value judgment – manipulated, not processed. Unfortunately, the Met exhibit does not help this discussion – the premise of the exhibit is that manipulation should be acceptable because it has been practiced for over 100 years. I will see the exhibit because I am interested – I don’t expect any help in answering the question when it’s addressed to me.
I do have a few more thoughts on the question now. As photographers, I think we have to understand (and accept) why it is that people raise this question. As a medium, photography has a relationship to reality that other artistic mediums do not have. Also, most people’s exposure to photography has been in the form of documentary images (yes, that could include celebrity magazines as well as news organizations). To be fair, it’s not difficult to see why people would assume, even if incorrectly, that photography always represents something real, something that exists in the real world. They could reasonably expect to go to the same spot and see what is in your photograph. We know this isn’t true but you can see how someone might think so.
The best. and clearest, analogy for me is to writers. No one would ever ask a novelist if they ‘manipulated’ words – they are expected to do precisely that. We know to expect that of a novelist – in fact, novelists will be asked what part of their story is based on actual events. And we don’t have to go back far to see what happens to the journalist who makes up some or all of a story. The bottom line is that people make assumptions, not always accurate, and more than anything, they do not liked to be fooled. If we’re clear about what we are doing, they may still not like it but we can’t be accused of deceiving our audience.
Would you have seen the photograph above if you’d been standing on the beach next to me? Perhaps not but I hope you might say, oh I know that feeling.
I will add if you shoot black and white, you very rarely get the question – did you manipulate that?
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