About two years ago, I wrote the following post on a now defunct blog I created called Mnemonic Maze. The post was originally titled "Working in a Vacuum Sucks" which was pretty much how I felt at the time. I've since been able to embrace the fact that I'm not going to get anywhere with my work if I don't enlist the help of some good folks to collaborate with and lean on along the way. In hindsight, I see clearly how limited I was by my fear when it came to asking for help. It's pretty textbook stuff, but having a record in the form of this old post serves as a good reminder of how important that's been in taking my work to the next level. It also shows me that I'm making progress, however slowly. So here it is...a snapshot of me in 2008. "Working in a Vacuum Sucks"
I'm my own worst photo editor. Here's why:
I've often asked myself what my objectives are with photography. Why do I shoot? Why do I choose to take the photos that I take – to subject myself to what often feels like an exercise in futility?
I ask myself these questions sometimes because I think they're important and, if considered carefully, will help me get to where I want to be with my craft, but sometimes, I just ask them out of frustration. This is one of those times.
I'm sure everyone who dedicates any significant amount of time to a creative pursuit (or any pursuit for that matter) asks the same questions. For me, although the answers change from time to time, as I try to look objectively at my own images, some constants are beginning to emerge...or at least let's say, there are some recurring themes.
For example, I notice the following strains running through my work:
Sometimes, I'm photographing the light on a subject. The resulting images are more "studies" than they are photographs. Nonetheless, they seem to have an intrinsic value that, even if only academic, makes them special. But does that mean they're worth showing? I don't know. I'd say it depends. On what? I don't know. Depends.
Then there are images that have a certain appeal because they capture a sense of what I would call "irony," for lack of a better word. It may not be overt, but rather on some subtle level – and this is where my voice, or my ideas begin to become apparent in the work. There's a concept there, and that's exciting to me. It feels like an accomplishment to be able to pull that off in a largely mechanized medium. Of course that assumes that the viewer gets it. But does the viewer get it? Again, I don't know. Depends.
By nature, a lot of these images are not singularly great photographs either. They tend to rely heavily on the larger body of work of which they are a part, or at the very least on another image, which makes them somehow compromised, i.e. not strong, i.e. not good enough. Says who? My internal critic, for one.
I struggle with this segment of my work because I never know what to do with these pictures. Do I abandon them, or do I stick with it and continue to make these images that are basically just part of an ongoing art project that may or may never take shape? The scope of the larger concept is the thing. The individual images are like pieces of a patchwork quilt. Little pieces of a larger truth. Or at least that's the idea. We'll see.