Forgive me for not updating the site in what seems like a decade. I would love to say that I have been hard at work on finishing up the Aperture 3 updates to my eBooks or producing a gaggle of Aperture 3 screencasts that are better and more reasonably priced than my more capitalistic colleagues but the fact is that I have been suffering from spring fever. Happens every year. I hope to be over it soon. On that note I have been at least jotting down all of the things that cross my mind to post regarding Aperture, photography, etc. What is it they say about “The faintest ink…”
I was going to write a really insightful but non-exciting soliloquy about all of the wonderful new Adobe stuff like CS5 and LR3 but to tell you the truth I am not that excited about it. Don’t get me wrong I will eventually upgrade to CS5 just for the 64bit-ness. Instead I am going to write a little about inspiration. Again. Not for the purpose of inspiring you with my thoughts and experiences but more to help fellow photographers to find there own method. Yes - method. That might seem a little bit contrary to the whole notion of inspiration and it sort of is but if you are going to be successful in your own artistic endeavors you are going to need a process.
Instead of trying to express some detailed complete and holistic recipe I’ll just share some snippets of things I do - religiously - and where they lead me. I’ll try to keep this short but with enough of my own thought process so that hopefully it will be a little more than the bottom line of “write your ideas and inspirations down” - always, without fail and do it immediately. Everyone knows this, right? Why do so few people do it? My guess is that they feel either stupid doing it, the particular emotion, feeling, etc has nothing to do with the particular thing they are working on or thinking about right now, or they don’t think it is useful. Trust me, even if 80% turns out to be useless. The 20% will be useful. If not now, it will be down the road, even if only to lead you somewhere else in your thinking. Write down anything, just a few words will do, reflect on it a little the next day, write down some more if something crosses your mind. It doesn’t have to stand on it’s own, it doesn’t have to be anything. It can be sterile and boring or poetic. Doesn’t matter.
The other night I was outside at about 10pm and got a surge of electricity, pangs of anxiety. Not the bad kind - the good kind. The rock star taking the stage kind with all the associated adrenaline fueled restlessness that comes with it. Why? The endless promise and possibilities of a new summer. So what did I write down? Embarrassingly enough - just a couple of words and phrases describing my surroundings - the things my physical senses told me about.
“Blue velvet sky with countless stars”, “soft silvery moonlight”, “fireflies”, “smell of honeysuckle”, “music”, “laughter of post adolescent teenage girls”, “warm glow of lights through open windows”. That’s it. The next day I read those things and thought a little bit about why those things exerted such power on me. Guess what all of a sudden a late teenage summer tradition hit me like a train. I wrote it all down, everything I could think of. To spare you the recitation of the semi-coherent short story that was the final result of my scribblings I’ll just summarize the event that I wrote down.
In the way back time in the area I grew up in, a well-to-do, very republican suburb most parents and younger siblings would disappear for large portions of the summer. Right down the road from me in a place called Rose Tree there were two sisters about my age that would have parties at least once a week. Dozens of girls from the all girls prep school that they attended and boys from all over the place. The road they lived on was wooded and infested with honeysuckle - so powerful you could hardly breath. They lived in a stone english manor style house typical for the neighborhood with a long stone drive lined with ancient elm trees and rose gardens. Walking down the drive towards the house you could hear the music coming from the patio on the back lawn and see a few of the people spilling out the sides. Over the music and chatter you could hear the song of young women’s laughter. The only light was that from the interior spilling out through the open windows and the moon on perfect - clear June nights. Hell I even wrote about how the giant weeping willow tree down by the stream at the back of the lawn looked and sounded.
I left out all of my feeble attempts to capture how that makes me feel, or things I remember saying to my friends walking up that drive with me on various occasions but I wrote them down anyway. Why? Am I working on some sort of summer image project? Nope but… I can personally pull about 100 image ideas directly from those memories and 1000 more ideas from my memories of how people looked, expressions, gestures, relationships, etc., etc. If not next week then a year from now. I have no idea where or what will become of the 15minutes I spent writing all of it down. The 30 seconds when it hit me or the balance when reflecting on it. Based on previous experience the absolute least it will do is paint me a picture on demand for anything related so that I can use it to inspire gesture or expression, the most it will do is give me a direct narrative for something I actually produce.
I hope that all of that was not a complete waste of time. I thought some of you t just starting to develop your own creative process will get some insight into a small part of mine. The bottom line that I mentioned at the beginning about writing everything down is on point, ideas, circumstances, memories, triggers, details - they all matter when producing a narrative of any type. Maybe more importantly is trying to grasp at the essence of things that evoke a strong reaction in you. You will forget the nuances if you don’t process them and the nuances and subtleties are what it is all about.
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