I get kinda edgy when I read or hear about someone saying they need to go to exotic places to make photos. For me it’s always been in the heart and mind that feeds the eye. Of course I like to travel to erotic places….ummmm errr exotic places but not doing that requires a temperament and a drive to work under all circumstances. When I was actively teaching work shops, I made a few procedures to reinstate the inspiration to work. I feel it is critical to vision to be able to uncover thoughts and find the photos in areas where on is constantly working.
Many get what writers call The Block. It’s not a sweet thing to deal with be we can over come it with diligence and patience. The first step in overcoming any kind of block is to recognize and accept that you are in a block. This is not for the light hear-ted. Many will tell you to take a break, put the camera down. Others will say to do something other then what you do. For instance, if you do street, do garden, or portraits etc. Others might say, eat pizza and drink beer.
Well, I see all those methods as a justification for not addressing your real love, photography. What I mean is, if you love something and it starts to have issues, you need to work those issues out and find a path to productivity again. You need to find “The Light of Inspiration” once again.
I always listened to the people I respected and still do. I may have been a bad boy because listening and doing what they say was always different to me. My mom was a Frank Sinatra fan and always played his music. I started to like it at a young age. The one day, when all things in the universe started to come together, I mean the clouds got dark and the ground warm, the flowers pointed upwards, dogs stopped barking, parents too… and then, then coming from the record player, Frank was singing…”I did it my way”. Well, in my mind Frank was telling me to do it my way, mom didn’t agree and told me he was not singing to me directly and that I was responsible to still do it her way.
So, I came up with a method of re-kindling the light of inspiration.
Here it is in a nutshell but it’s a good one.
Day 1 …. Go into a room that is quiet and do not do anything but sit and look around for 1 hour. No camera, radio, cellphone television, nada. Nothing but your self. In about 15 minutes you might start to get bored. In 30 minutes you will send a hit squad out to get me. No books, mag etc. Just you and the room. After maybe 30 or so minutes, you might start to look at things more closely and maybe even make photos in your head. Do it. Frame, look at everything and relax. No input other then your eye, heart and mind and muster up. If you have a partner and kids etc, you may want to stay longer and it’s ok.
Day 2 …. Go back into the room with your camera. Sit and relax and repeat the Day 1 1 hour exercise but this time, use the camera to frame and stuff. No photos to be made. Just use the camera to see but not to record even if your next masterpiece is there. Just see and enjoy that on it’s own.
Day 3 …. Go back in to sanctuary as you now know it and spend the hour seeing like Day 2. This time, make 1 photo, just one and now you should be hungry but just 1 photo. You can process this 1 photo and nothing else.
Day 4 …. Go to sanctuary and have your camera, (best if it’s named but not required) …. Now breathe and make 6 photos not of the same thing but 6 what you feel are keepers. Make this last an hour. Not less. Process the photos.
Day 5 …. Sit in sanctuary with your photos and study them. Try to feel the experiences of the days and how you reacted to time and the energy of the room and how it effected you and you it. At what level do these photos work? How would others see them? Do you feel right about them? Do they represent you and your life during the experience?
Make sure that you do not make any photos other then the exercise. So for like 5 days, don’t do anything but this project. If you do this and need to talk to some one about it and your results, Im available.
I’m not dropping Paul Strand’s name here cause that’s tacky maybe, nah…. Strand sometimes made a series of photos of dishes, fruit etc. He saw each individual photo as a life of it’s own. Maybe the photos were grouped in a series but as like people, each is an individual and we need to deal with it as such. I’m not putting anything else about the visual exercise because I don’t want to set up preconceptions for those that may use it.
You will know who did this because you will see The Light of Inspiration in their work.