Thursday, May 16, 2013

Process - Part One

Wow, it's been a while.  To all of my loyal followers, let me apologize for the lack of posts this year.  I suffered an injury at the end of 2012 and I've been recovering from foot surgery for the majority of 2013.  I've been focusing on my recovery and I just haven't been able to physically go out and shoot. The good news is that I've almost made a full recovery and I'm going to be shooting regularly in no time.  Even though I haven't been shooting, I have been participating in a number of exhibits, both regionally and nationally.  I've been interacting with a number of photographers and I’ve been asked by a number of them about my creative process when it comes to producing my images.  In fact, I’ve been asked so much that I decided to dedicate a series of blog posts on the subject.

Before I get into the details of how I proceed with creating my images, let me say that everyone’s process will be different and there is no right or wrong way.  We’re all unique and outside of the proper technical aspects, each of us is going to arrive at a finished print having taken a different journey.  Just like in life, the journey can be the most fulfilling part of any process.  In photography, seeing the final image, exactly as you envisioned it, is exhilarating.  However, knowing what you went through to get to that final image makes it even better.  Lord Baelish from the HBO show “Game of Thrones” was talking about chaos on a recent episode.  The quote, paraphrased a bit, is as follows:  “Chaos isn’t a pit.  Chaos is a ladder.  Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again.  The fall breaks them.  And some, are given a chance to climb.  They refuse because they cling to illusions.  Only the ladder is real.  The climb is all there is.”  The creative process is the climb and that is all there is.

There have been many arguments throughout time about the artistic integrity of photography.  There are proponents and detractors and there always will be.  The first thing to remember when creating an image is to think of your photography as art and not just a snapshot or a captured moment in time.  Until you start thinking in this manner, you will never be able to push the boundaries of your personal photography.  Sure, there are styles of photography that need realism, like street photography or photojournalism, but those styles can and have been elevated to high art (see Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Vivian Maier).  Once you get into the habit of viewing photography as art, you open yourself up to a whole world of possibilities.  

As time goes by, if you’re anything like me, you interact with a number of photographers and artists and you tend to immerse yourself in information about your craft.  Whether it’s conversations with peers and mentors, magazine articles, forums or gear/software reviews, it’s important to remember not to get tunnel vision.  Just because someone on a forum or in a magazine says that a technically perfect image is beautiful and that’s what you should strive for doesn’t mean that it’s the only way or the only acceptable way. Don’t be limited by perceived perfection.  Sometimes accidents or flaws help make an image beautiful; the same can be said with breaking the rules of composition.  With the technology today, anyone can take a “pretty picture,” but not everyone can create art.  

Once this mental obstacle is overcome, you can begin crafting an image or a series of images that push your photography to creatively high levels and that is where the fun begins.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series!

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