Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Epiphanies

An epiphany is an enlightened realization that allows a problem or situation to be understood. Some are small, some large. When one happens to me it always seems as though I've broken through to the other side of something with which I didn't even realize I was struggling.

I'm not at ease with living routinely. I need to have some kind of over-arching focus or direction in my life. I can do the mundane stuff comfortably if it's in service of something creative to which I feel dedicated. For the past several years, since my recovery from serious eye surgery, I've been on a path that's brought me full circle back to where my image making journey first began - documentary photography. In the early 1990's, when I walked away from my short catastrophic foray into the corporate world, a seemingly disassociated series of events led to my producing several documentary photographic projects. It's been a long time since I felt that kind of commitment and involvement. Although I've felt the impetus to get out and shoot - which I have been enjoying thoroughly - there's been a bit of unease and underlying doubt about what it is I'm trying to do. Somewhere in the back of my mind is a tiny voice pushing me in a certain direction. When I listen to it, when I get out and shoot the kinds of images that my instinct tells me is what I need to do, I get buzzed. When I do something else, not only do I not feel the buzz, but the images usually bore me to tears as I review them at the end of the day.

As often as has happened in my life, 'things' usually fall into place and eventually everything makes sense. But when I'm going through the process - as I have been for the past year or so - even though I enjoy it -  there's an underlying uneasiness about what the end result might be.

And then eureka - all the 'why's fall into place and make sense. It happened earlier this week. I've been drawn to a few spots in Manhattan to shoot street, one in particular. I've really enjoyed the variety of characters there, but had no clear idea or direction of what I was trying to accomplish, until I had that epiphany. Once I did, ideas were popping like firecrackers. Without having to really think, images fell into an orderly structure that seems to have been, unbeknownst to me, somewhere in the back of my mind all along.

One of my favorite spots is on the corner of Washington St. and 13th St. in the Meat Packing district just south of Chelsea (not the location of my epiphany). There's a biker bar called the Hog and Heifer which caters to some rather 'colorful' characters. Just around the corner on Washington Street there's several trendy bars and bistros that attract a more genteel clientele, and the juxtaposition of the two leads to some interesting contrasts. The shots in my most recent blog post were taken the same afternoon as these - one block apart.