“The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.” Lester Bangs
I love that quote. Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that photography can be ‘Art’ and that those who do it can be “artists.”
Photography should be fun. It should come from a place of ease and spontaneity. If it comes from your head instead of your heart, it’ll likely be forced. If it’s forced, it won’t be very good. This doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. That’s the paradox of it. Good work is hard…but it usually comes easily. When I’m “seeing” it seems everywhere. When I’m not, it’s nowhere to be found. At the risk of sounding metaphysical, I’m a firm believer in one’s muse, an animating creative force that comes and goes on its own volition. The trick is to take advantage of it when it’s present. It’s a free gift you can’t expect on schedule.
It being a lazy Sunday morning, I intended to stay in bed, enjoy a cup of coffee (maybe a demitasse of calvados on the side) and read. I’ve recently commenced reading back issues of Aperture Magazine, which I’ve subscribed to for at least 25 years, although I hadn’t really read an issue in the proper sense since Fall, 1999, instead filing them for later perusal on the bookshelves dedicated to photography. Now suddenly inspired, I’ve committed to catching up on 20 years (that’s 80 issues). Sunday morning in bed, sipping calvados, seemed as good a time as any. Buddy the dog had other ideas. Traditionally, Sunday is his day for the extra-special, extra-long walk off-leash on the Dorothea Dix Campus grounds. I know it. He knows it. And he knows that I know. To let me know he knew that I knew, he picked up one of my walking shoes, jumped on the bed and dropped it in front of me. Then he stared. This went on until I complied by asking him the totally rhetorical question – “Do you want to go for a walk?” – that sent him prancing to the door while I threw on my pants and tied my shoes.
As we left I dropped my Sigma SD Quattro in a shoulder bag and took it with. I’ve been feeling inspired all of the sudden – blog posts coming a mile a minute; thinking of, and seeing, pictures everywhere. Visual inspiration usually comes to me in one of two forms, either the urge to document everything around me, usually wife, kids, friends, animals, or a heightened sensitivity to shapes and form I see in the things around me. I’m presently being visited by the second muse, and when I am I’ll typically buy a canvas and paint, but I’ll occasionally gratify the urge with a camera, photographing form I see latent in everyday things.
So, Me and Buddy went for our walk. We were gone about an hour, In that time I took maybe 20 pictures with my Sigma. Here’s four that caught my eye. What’s remarkable to me is that the entire process, from conception/initiation to execution and presentation, took 2 hours total, maybe. In the spirit of my last post, I can’t decide whether that’s good or bad. Shouldn’t it be hard? Can it be easy? If “easy,” isn’t it that the “hard” part has been done over many years of reading, looking, thinking and seeing?
Sunday morning seems to be good for you. Calvados you can sip at any time, but first thing in the morning? If you must, use a Spanish brandy and legitimise it as a carajillio…
Are those cankers growing inside that tree crevice, some sort of vandalism… or?
I think we should be told.
just some funky things growing on a tree….
Not sure that morning Calvados and your muse go along very well…
Either that, or it’s a failure of imagination on your part. taste is individual; i took those and you’d have walked right past without a second look. i absolutely love the first pic, the others….whatever; one good photo per outing is a great ROI. I can see the first one, printed big (24×30) on dekel edged fine art paper free-matted against an off-white matte, framed in a blonde wood frame. has a certain antique industrial chic feel to it. I can see it hanging behind some bauhaus type sofa in some sparse industrial loft. Apparently you can’t.
I find the idea of Good Work being hard but coming easily very insightful. Noticed it myself on many occasions. The Dao says one cannot invent it because it has always been there. Instead we allow ourselves the opportunity to see it by not forcing, which is the hard part.