Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Elemental Self...

The Madonna of Rouen
   Why do you make photographs?  I'm speaking now to those of you who would like to consider yourself a contemplative photographer.  At some point you need to peel away the masking layers of expectations, per-conceived ideas and self doubt and get to the core of your being - your Elemental Self.  This is a very personal process and I can only speak to my own journey so that's what I plan to do in this post.  I do this because I feel that when you understand your motivations, you can more fully realize your personal potential as a photographer.

"Knowing others is wisdom.
Knowing yourself is
Lao Tzu

   I returned to photography in 2005 at a particularly difficult time in my life.  The direction I thought that life was heading took a complete 180.  I needed a way to distance myself from the chaos in my daily life and teaching - something I'd done for 25 years - wasn't enough.  I turned to my old love, photography.

   Now I won't give you a blow by blow description of the ensuing 7 years but I will say I began the journey with a lot of per-conceived ideas of what being an "artist" meant.  I've slowly but surely evolved my own definition. Over the years I have exhibited a great deal, sold a fair amount of my work, published a book, and been featured in a national magazine.  All good things and one would think that I would have been content with my progress but something was missing for me.  I discovered that missing part in January this year when I began this blog.  The more I wrote about my process, the more I looked at my real motivation and I realized that sharing my love of contemplative photography was what I need to focus on going forward. But did that realization change my work?

   My process, my "thought flow", is unchanged but I've become more relaxed and at ease.  I no longer think of photographs in a commercial sense...will they sell?...will galleries like them?...I view them only in a contemplative sense and that has made all the difference.  I find myself spending time with "insignificance"...places and things that I would have over-looked before.  I don't count a good day by the number of images I have on my memory card but the emotional intensity of the few I do have.  At my core, my elemental self, I'm not a marketer...I am terrible at self-promotion.  If I was a business, I'd be out of business for sure! What motivates me is the pursuit of metaphor. It is the sense of discovery of essential truths hidden in plain sight that pulls me forward.  Now, sharing the personal joy I get from those discoveries is the most important motivation of all.

Why do you make photographs?


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