When looking for photographs, find them in your heart, then bring them to your camera. The rest is photography.
Simple words but to live by them is a lifetime of work. I taught myself many years ago to trust my heart above my mind. I mean we need to trust our mind and I do but there is a stronger satisfaction from images from the heart than from the mind. See, I spend a lot of time working and always did. I can remember some photos that I thought about and made. I remember photos that I felt and made. I know many will say I am missing the boat cause ideally, the photos should come from the Mind and Heart. Well, for me there is a distinct difference between the two. I like the split because I analyze my work in a way the lets me separate and join together the mind and heart. I suppose it’s ideal to have both work together but I like to think that the difference between the two makes for a strong understanding of the images.
Way back in the early 1970s, I did an experiment. I spent time making photos of my wife and kids. I felt these photos very strong and I was very excited by the photos. Then I went to the streets and made photos that I thought about. What I mean is, I had ideas of photos and wanted to make them so I could see my ideas come to fruit. Many of the photos from both groups we very exciting and satisfied my curiosity. But the experiment was more intense. I wanted, no needed to see which if any of the photos rang truer than others. The net result of this experiment was actually learning to accept the images and how they affect my work and how they affect my future work.
Editing and curating your own work is a lesson in ego washing. Ideally, you put a lot of images in the mix and then doing the job of editing to get the final residue and gist of your work. Sounds easy enough but we need to realize that what we are doing is bringing others to the life of our work. They become a part of our mix. I have edited many photos from many people for the Inspired Eye and other duties for the images. There is a manner of approach to viewing and even making photos. The “WHY” and the “HOW” are essential and understanding the difference is crucial to success. The key factor of the how and why is to get how the shooter thinks and or feels. Years ago going to exhibitions and gallery openings, I would look at the photos and try to feel them as if the shooter made them for me. I loved when I connected to an image. Made me feel like I knew something. Secretly inside and never brought to the surface, I asked how the shooter made the photos. I was interested in what camera, what lens, what film, how they processed, everything about the blood and veins of the photo. I was not an academic and had little or no training in photography. I felt often like an outsider but my lust for life with my camera superseded any feelings of self-worth.
I’m not being self-indulgent here. I had to figure this stuff out mainly by myself and then let it grow inside me so it was a part and is a part of my existence. If I was an academic then this stuff would be in me and be proper. So I try to explain how I think and feel about things best I can at the moment. I’m editing and curating an exhibition for a woman shooter. She is very talented and yet I feel something missing from the photos. Emotionally they are very strong but they lack interesting eye travel. Her heart is intact and she makes the subject appear with the viewer. The photos lack a sense of environmental presence. Even Avedon with his corner portraits has a very strong sense of environment. The lack of environmental info is also the presence of environmental info.
I am caught in a conundrum about her exhibition. If I say anything at this time about the photos having an emotional stance but lacking in the rest of the frame, she will be very upset and well she should be. If I just let this go and she does the exhibition, some viewers will feel the lack of supporting energy and she will be upset because I didn’t express my thoughts before she was hanging naked on the wall.
So it appears the life force of the Heart and Mind exist in a very strong manner, and we must deal with it even if we don’t’ understand or accept it.