Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Dreaded 'C' Word

In a recent blogpost of the World Photography Organization several videos were presented about creativity and photography. Generally I tend to shy away from the new age philosophy that we are all inherently creative, but the first of these videos brought the issue more into focus for me (pardon the pun). 

I'm always searching for that kernel of whatever it is inside me that makes me a productive artist. In the video the speaker makes four points, and I think it is the extent to which any of us is willing to engage all of these points that separates the 'milk from the cream'. 

Being open and embracing experience: When I go about my day I have to be always aware of what goes on around me, open to a new situation or experience, and be willing to become engaged in it. It's what shooting on the street is all about. I can't go out with preconceived ideas of what in particular I will be looking for - that's like wearing blinders - but rather just observe the world around me and jump into a new situation (sometimes with fear and/or trepidation).

Embracing life's challenges: It's what connects us all together, and in reflecting that in my images I can draw the viewer into the subject to see the world through the camera, with my perspective. The more difficult or challenging the situation, the more effort I have to put into it. But I can't run from those experiences to look for what is more comfortable or familiar.

Pushing up against the limits, and what you can't do: When I hear a voice in my head that says 'You can't do that' I have to listen to it, and then go and do it. Succumbing to that voice is to admit defeat. Were I to have listened to that voice I would never have become a violinist nor a photographer.

The embrace of loss: This is the most tragic to run from. Loss is part of everyone's life, in myriad forms. It's part of the natural world and the inexorable passing of time. As time moves forward, what was once, in an instant, is over - gone forever - and if the way I see it is not documented, the memory of it will fade and disappear over time. 

These are all not easy to commit to. To the extent that I am willing to do so will determine the force and impact of what I seek to portray.

On one of my photo walks in NYC I happened upon this gentleman and was struck by the disparity of the sadness in his face and eyes, and the sign he was holding. I hope he, and all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.