My idea when I go out to work is to think about the present and generate new ideas. Of course life enters rather quickly and all goes to pot. I suppose we have memories and we store them someplace but they are always active and effect the present. I think it was Dorothea Kehaya that said, “See things as if your seeing them for the first time”. I’m not saying she coined the phrase but I heard it from her ages ago. I find that an impossible task. I mean memories and info are pollutants. No matter what I do I can’t get them out of my head and heart. This unfortunately goes for my exes too. laffs. So many say to see things as if for the first time. I firmly believe this is destructive to think and feel. that way. I try to see the world in a frame, I mean I see the image frame and then get placement of the subject matter to where it feels right. I know that many times over 50 years, I have seen something many different ways but the memory of the last image of it pollutes the present moment.
The interesting thing is …. since the dawn of all time, the very first cave man photographer, no 1 second ever is repeated in the same way. Maybe, just maybe, this means that time is a measuring device that reminds us of the all important Being In the Moment. Only shooters can ever be aware of the moment.
So instead of doing battle with our past images, perhaps we should embrace those moments and if they seem to present themselves in the here and now of the moment, they aren’t really. Maybe they are guides that we have established and set for our work.
The connection as I see it is the eye, mind and heart. Ideally, all three elements come together at the precise moment of exposure. This is a known fact among shooters…but, what about the start of seeing the image. How does that actually work? I call it a trigger mechanism. I get walking and my camera is in my hand and I’m kinda tuned in a place where I am letting the world seep in my mind. Then, all the sudden something or someone strikes a chord. My juices get flowing and my sensitivities and sensibilities are activated. I start to breathe and feel a new photo coming. The trigger is what stimulates the creative process. The camera gets ready and i start framing,,,, there are thoughts and opinions on framing.
It becomes a travesty to ignore or attempt to erase history. In photography, history lends direction either from the past or implied to the future. Looking for the next photo may or may not be an easy task but it certainly should be attainable by all in pursuit of it. Our internal vision and our external vision needs to be awake and excited and connected whenever we work. What happens when a dry spell knocks on the door? Well, that’s an issue most of us have to deal with. Having a defined history of our work, allows us to research it and bring the gist of it to our present and help shape our future.
I know this seems like non photography but it’s all about your photography. Your living this regardless of your awareness of it or not. Making photos is personal only if we adopt and apply a perspective that is our own. Mind you, it’s impossible but we strive to work that way. There are 3 aspects of time that we need observe. The past, or history, the present that is history in the making and the future that is to become history.
When we look at our archive of photos, we are seeing our history. These footprints pave the way for the future and we should not discount the life of these photos. Maybe many will say, seeing your history will make you repeat it over and over. That is pure rubbish. There are few places on the planet that are vacant of history. In photography, like it or not, we are treading on someone’s history all the time. Nothing wrong with that at all.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
So, how to relate this too our photography and make sense of it. For a long time I was working in series or groups of photos. I mean relative consciousness of the images. I would strive to make photos that fit together with others to be something more that the single frame. Long ago before my mind was even alive, I read a book on Gestalt Psychology. It taught me that all the parts are greater then the whole. This idea has perplexed me for decades.
I always liked to take things apart and analyze them and see what and why things tick. Well I got to thinking in later years and understood the the parts of the sum have an intrinsic value on each part that the whole may encompass but shadow over due to the mass collection of the parts.
In photography, we can not escape history. More importantly, we can never nor should we try to erase the history of others. The path we travel with our camera can be guided if not directed by what has been done before. If we embrace the history of ours and others, we give birth to the present and the future. Now with lockdowns and eases of them, we can not be lost. The struggle to create and FEEL again is reborn. We can unleash an energy inside us craving to make photos.
We are at a point of rebirth and it’s gonna be special but only because we love the history of Mother Light and all she grants us and has granted our fellow shooters across time.