Photographic Philosophy

I have mused, explained, communicated - or tried to many times a thought process that I completely understand at a very instinctual level but find it hard to articulate in words with any kind of coherence. Since I know that I am incapable at this point of any kind of clear holistic dissertation on the subject I try my best to infuse a lot of my posts with the feeling of this thought process that I referred to. Let's call it a philosophy of the photographic endeavor.

Many times I have mentioned in many different ways that commercial photography work poisoned me, poisoned my outlook, and poisoned my work. Don't get me wrong - I did learn a lot about making perfect images. The question is perfect in which particular way. My answer happens to be - in a way that was exactly opposite of what I wanted to see. When I took a semi-permanent vacation from photography of anything it took me a couple of years to really get my head straitened out about the endeavor again. Now that I am a couple of years beyond that I am actually starting to dip my toe in to anything remotely project oriented again - this time my own project - my own way - using media and an approach that I want to use for no particular rationale other than I want to.

I have spoken about film more than most would like or are interested in. I have talked about simplicity in approach, equipment, and treatment of images after they have been taken. I know I have not articulated reasons beyond fairly simple logic trying to appeal to your sense of economics, love of beautifully designed devices, and the no-brainer - "let someone else do the work" thought process. I have tried to explain the wonderfulness of only caring what the image looks like instead of worrying and fretting over what the noise looks like or what AF mode to choose.

There is way more to it. One of the best articulations of how I feel, where I have been (a different path but same though process), where I might go, what was missing, what happened, why I do what I do now, etc etc - has been this short essay by Daniel Milnor. I have talked with dozens of photographers that feel this way. I have talked with dozens of photographers that didn't think this way 5 years ago but they do now. Part of the reason that I admire the photographers that I do mention from time to time is that they seemed to get to a place down the road from where I am and so many others are… The next place in the endeavor where their vision and approach are not at all influenced or polluted by any specific endeavor or why they are performing it. I urge you to read Daniel's essay and think about it briefly.

On a similar note take a look at this short photographic series shot in a very simple way using very simple equipment - I don't know this photographer other than the images that he presents on his blog but I can reliably predict that he might - just might have been through the same thought process and ended up what he is doing now for similar reasons even if it was a completely different route.

I bring this up today because, as I mentioned yesterday, I have been elected to shoot the communities annual fourth of July event. This is no big deal with no giant expectations but it scares the shit out of me. Not because I can possibly fail but because of the chaos of how to prepare - how to light - how to shoot - what equipment - how to direct. In other words it's a project - someone else's project that is subconsciously doing the same thing to me and my approach and what I want that other commercial fashion endeavors did to me years ago. It's like PTSD of sorts - if I don't get myself under control I will be hauling lights around in a truck, finding a new location for the event, and completely recasting it with professional models instead of the people in the community….


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