As you may have noticed over the last two weeks, I have not been doing much other than spending any downtime from making money on anything but going through images I have shot for the next lighting field guide. The only thing I have done other than that and writing it - or re-writing it has been that LaRoque Challenge thing a few weeks back. I really miss it right now and am itching to get back out there and shoot. I feel the tug every day to go shoot some stuff - in ways that I haven't done before.
I cannot let that happen right now. If I would have done it yesterday I would be nowhere on the field guide. I have a full schedule next week and am still trying to look at things I shot a month ago for the first time. All I need to do is pile up some more images to look at, consider, and think about. Chances are I would probably focus on them more. For now I better stick to the matter at hand and post a few things here as they cross my mind as I finish this next eBook up. If I don't play little games with myself like this - "okay finish what you started and then you can start something else" - I will never get anything done. It's far easier to have a deliverable defined by someone else in a lot of cases.
That brings me to the title of the post. A reoccurring theme as I examine some of the images I shot as illustrations. From my perspective they were originally intended to be extremely strait-forward work-man like illustrations. Nothing fancy or experimental or anything like that. Nothing to distract from the discussion on matters of light and lighting. While shooting them I couldn't really help myself from playing around and shooting variations not intended for illustration - things I just wanted to do.
As I go through them more than a few fall into a category that I have a hard time with. That in between category for me that is somewhere between yes this will work and no this won't work. I have already talked about this twice before coming at it from a completely different direction with less perspective than I have at this moment. The first was a general commentary on that in-between category of images that fall outside the box of no and yes. I wasn't at all talking about that from a technical or IQ quality point of view I was far more referring to a creative or artistic point of view.
I also discussed it in reference to things that seep in to your vision without you even realizing it - until you do. In a good way that comes from pure play. Not haphazard play but focused play that does things just to do them and not purely driven by some pre-determined overly specified end result goal.
The combination of all of those thoughts I have had in concert with going through a month or so worth of images shot for the eBook and a certain trend is appearing. There are more than a few images - like dozens - I like not just in spite of their flaws but because of their flaws. I use that word flaw specifically. They are intended flaws not random shitty images that were blown on my behalf. More images that I knew exactly what I was doing but really didn't know if it was going to work out in an end result. As of now they are floating in that in between category for me. I tag them as such in my archive so I won't loose track of them. A kind of limbo that hovers between yes and no.
Not because I need an image and they happen to be the only one I have that will do but are some how a little off- that's a completely different thought process of "which one sucks less" you know that kind of situation - you shot a sequence and need to produce one but you have a bunch of generic meehhh images in terms of gesture, expression, whatever and then one that would have been gold but you tripped over your you know what and it's screwed… This is completely different. These I like better than the perfect ones - maybe.
Like the image at the top - a bizarre crop for me. What's more is I am pretty good at doing "my thing" and tripping the shutter during transitions of motion to make idiotically sharp images. I have had lots of practice. I tend not to pull the trigger when my left brain tells me no go. I have been pulling the trigger far far more during that no go point because I thought it might be interesting. It's blurry in a bunch of places where some very quick motion was happening.
Same with this one I made for the hour I took to shoot my last response to the LaRoque wintertime challenge…
Or this one with Carly in a moment of spontaneous dance - she had some New Orleans Jazz playing and just fooling around. I actually lowered my shutter speed and told her to keep going.
Or even this I shot while the granddaughter was visiting…
All of these are in Limbo but interesting to me. Interesting in my journey as a photographer. Why in limbo? First of all because I am the worlds worst photo editor. By edit I mean the traditional sense not post processing. I don't even worry about treatment or color or any of that until I edit. Why bother. I am a pretty good self-editor if I have 5 or 10 years or reflection. If I have shot them in the last year or closer I am hopeless. I have no idea which ones I like or are good and if I think I do then I change my mind every single time I look at them. Anyone want a low paying photo-editor job?
The second and more interesting reason they are in limbo is all of the thoughts and questions they provoke for me - as an artist - as a photographer. Even if they end up on the rubbish pile those questions and my interest in them will hopefully be insightful to my own journey.
The first question that puts them in limbo is the title of the post - Am I getting too artsy? Seriously - in my book that's a negative. I know I am not just enamored with the "effect". Thank goodness I know myself better at this point. I know they are not just a stupid exercise in motion - I have been around the block on that a few times. I guess that question comes up because I do know myself - I don't like artsy for the sake of artsy. I detest it in "art". So I assume these are somehow flagged as potentially pretentious - add nothing to the photograph effect. The interesting part is that they don't for me. At least not right now.
Another question, revelation, new ground, difference for me that makes these interesting and puts them in that in-between state is something you may have picked up on if you have read a smattering of things here over a few years. Something that has actually come up lately from a commenter a few posts ago. In the comment NL mentioned that I might be going way too far into a more fashion lifestyle commercial look.
Funny - 12 hours a day for years and years before I just about gave up on photography and didn't touch a camera for a year or two. Not once. It took a few years, a few personal projects just for me to be shown to no one ever, helping some other photographers produce their work, dipping my toe in here and there, as well as a lot of mental gymnastics to dig my head out of that hole. I was actually scared to shoot anything that remotely looked like that for a long time. Scared that I would go right back down that road. So scared that I wouldn't do anything even remotely that could be confused stylistically or technically with my general over produced over lit way too much kind of modus operandi.
I am in a completely different place now. Took a long time but that was the only path for me. All of that was necessary for you to understand the really difficult question for me and my path forward. I am not scared to bring other things from my photographic history to the table now. They don't own me I own them. I can see the fusion of various influences and attitudes of mine as clear as a bell in some of these images I can see what came before. I can see what is far far different. At least for me. This confirms like nothing else has - I am in a different place. For me a much better place. Has nothing to do with a particular technique, style, or anything like that. Which definitely is the huge question for me and very much provoked by these in-between images. What now? Not a pessimistic kind of "what now" a very optimistic very wide open horizon kind of "what now".
As for the specific images - only time will inform me as to whether or not I like them or they end up in the circular file of "one star". I can tell you that this wintertime challenge 2013 edition as well as this little revelation for me provided by these in-between-ers will definitely remain interesting and important to me and how I answer the what now.