November 3rd, 2017 … Motivation vs Satisfaction … The Battle to Sustain the Self

The idea of the Unique photo came up in my last post. A rehash; the photo that makes you sing and that you feel is the best you get. This is a great experience, or is it? I will make a scenario and feel free to change the numbers as you see fit. Digital shooters normally make many exposures. Let’s say that a shooter makes 100 exposures. Out of the 100, there is 1 unique image. I’ll tell ya this, that’s a great percentage rate of Unique images. In real world, I doubt anyone gets close to this.

So what does this mean? Well, I believe the Inverse Square Law is applied here. I don’t exactly know how but maybe as we go along, it will reveal it self. Look,we are all in the same boat. We strive for that unique image because it gets liked and loved by the many. We feel a satisfaction that is stimulating and that drives us to continue. We have grasped the brass ring and feel that all that we were and all that we are will now continue on the Path of the Unique Image.

Well, that’s nice and worthy but what about all the ones left behind. If we are using 1/100 = Unique, what then of the 99/100 left behind? If the 1 Unique drives us and gives us energy and motivates us, what do the 99 others do? (ISL may apply, you decide) Do the 99 not give satisfaction even if in a different way? Do they motivate us in a way that maybe we aren’t sure of? Well, I believe that the 99 are just as important as the 1, (not talking USA politics)…

The 99 are not strangers to us. The 99 help to direct to the 1 because if we understand our work, they are a clear road map to the 1. All important decisions about gear, processing and everything will be handled by the 99. If we dismiss the importance of the 99 and only respect the 1, well soon there will be a loss in our light. See, the masses of images that we acquire and continue to make, are all that we are as a person.

I remember at the Museum, Ding pulled out a few boxes of Paul Strands work. He trusted me to be ok holding the photos because he taught me to di it proper. We put a box on a table and started going thru it. My heart raced as I went thru the photos. I could feel Paul standing behind me as I gazed upon his work. His existence was there at my fingertips. Ding said, the Curators did a splendid job here. After a minute I came up for air and turned to Ding, I asked what do you mean the Curators. Paul selected the photos right? Ding said, doesn’t really work that way. Paul makes the photos Ns the Curators will select the photos they want for the collection. We of course have the majority of his work. Then Ding told me to open this box that was around 11×14″. I opened it and the air from it was released and I breathed it in.

I started going thru the collection and there were photos of his garden, friends, Hazel and some from his ex-wives. Many photos came to light and I was totally absorbed. Ding said, these are the photos Paul made for himself. The ones that didn’t get selected. I felt a sense of well being. I mean I felt that maybe the Wizard was shown to me in actual light.

What this boils down to is this. When you look at someone’s work you admire, remember that there are more photos that are not seen than those that are seen. Chances are that a curator or editor has helped in the selection of what your seeing. It’s all good and it works this way. Perhaps we need not cut ourselves to pieces by comparing our work to another. Maybe we should seek the unique and compare it to our own work. That’s the best way to have sustainability and to manage to love our work and ourselves. We are all unique and if you learn to love your mundane, then maybe your unique photos will come to light.

…………………………………………….end transmission……………………………..

16 thoughts on “November 3rd, 2017 … Motivation vs Satisfaction … The Battle to Sustain the Self”

  1. Our work is like a giant iceberg. There’s the visible part and the part that you won’t see. It’s just one. Thanks for reminding us that Don and also that curator’s choice is just subjective

  2. Very interesting post, Don. When I think that Koudelka has created the 70-image Exiles with TEN years worth of wandering in Europe… and yet the best ones at his recent ‘making of’exhibitions were the ones where he selfied himself sleeping on the ground all over the place during his travels and at Magnum’s Paris offices

    1. Gio, no one is exempt from the mistakes of life. The fear is that we get ourselves to a certain level and then we have the unseen power to tear ourselves down.

      Good to see you my friend.

  3. Hi Don,
    This, to me, equates to, the cornerstone of an enduring house is the quality of how the foundations are constructed. I’d go so far as to say, even André Kertész, and other photographers, of renown or otherwise, most likely possess a repository of images, both unseen and or curated for view …

    1. Sean, of course your right and rightly so. The fear or the unknown about what happens if people see photos that are not the unique ones…. The Horror!

  4. Many of your offerings draw on your experience in military combat, which I respect but can’t claim to relate to. I didn’t serve, not by choice but by the circumstances of my age and what was going on at the time. But I keep reading because you often ring a bell in my head, a sound that resonates and fades very slowly and never completely. This column is a perfect example. Thank you for continuing to pour out your heart and guts and for always attaching a photo or two or three to illustrate your point.


    1. Jim, thanks…good observation. I tried writing from others or even a different me but my shrink keeps me focused on me. So my life experiences is what I share here not all, well not the sexi stuff but almost everything else.

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