September 13th, 2017 … The Unseen Seen Scene or, The Struggle To Continue

One question that comes up a lot and I hate to answer it but I do anyway. How do I tackle complacency and the obvious overstated, overseen, overworked, over-walked? It’s a question I answer but it goes into my gut to get it. This is also something every shooter will experience. There are countless ways to get past it but we should each try to understand our own block. For me and I’m not sure it’s a block, it’s hitting the streets and being in the same general area for ummmm decades. I love walking and usually do about 5 or so miles an outing. Sometimes I change cameras or lenses or both. I find that just changing  a camera or lens will make me see the obvious in a different manner. I respond different. Maybe the subject matter is very similar but seeing and thinking about it will create a new outlook or experience.

The Changing Here and now

So, if it’s true that we live in the here and now and we do. Photographers are blessed with the ability to appreciate the here and now and to make a photo in and of it.  The problem is that the here and now seems to have a sense of humor sometimes. I mean we are in the here and now and there ain’t nothing happening. I mean sometimes I’m  groovin and walking and hearing the horns honk and the dudes on the corner cursing, buses moving, homeless people begging for a bite to eat, (most know me and know I’ll give them something cause I want to)… all kinds of life going on and man, I mean to tellya, I’m in the here and now and it’s happening. We are all just living and doing what we do. I have my camera in my hand or on a strap. ( I can’t emphasize how much the ACAM 25 has changed my life. Ray Sachs showed me a few years ago and it’s the best thing going. I can wear my M on the strap cross shoulder and go all day, no aches.)

Then, all the sudden a cold shiver comes across me. I realize that I’m on the corner of 13th & Market and I know how much spit is on the street. I know about everything there is for a shooter to know at 13th & market. I been here making photos since 1971. Not like a few times a year either. I mean I been here a gazillion times. Then I pool around at all the familiar sites, all the people I see walking around.

Then a feeling of warmth overcomes me. I feel like I am where I know and where I belong. I don’t really fall prey to the “I need a new place to work syndrome”. Here I am and been here for decades and I feel stimulated. I mean I am looking for photos. Photos are looking for me that want to get borne. I gotta tellya…of course I get tired of seeing the same things and places day after day. Then what happens is, Mother light sends a photo fairy to me and says…”Look stupid, great shot”. Of course I make the photo because a photo fairy can help you find a photo but they aren’t allowed to make it. Maybe I am a romantic. Maybe I believe in magic and the love of life and photography. What does this have to do with a dry spell or creative block….?

It has to do with INTENT. If you focus on your intent then no matter how much stuff clutters it or how mush negative energy surrounds you, you maintain CLARITY of INTENT. We always have the issue of getting lost in the here and now. We get sidetracked and kinda feel alone and useless. We lose interest because we can’t find stimulation and energy to uplift our souls and feed our intent.

We all go through this. Everyone suffers the cloudy love of intent. The masters you see in books and museums went thru this. The bloggers on the net go thru this. All the shooters all over the world have or will have the struggle to continue. It is not a disease, not an affliction that can’t be over come.


c’mon, ya ain’t getting everything in one post. Ya know what Arnold said….”I’ll be back”…..

18 thoughts on “September 13th, 2017 … The Unseen Seen Scene or, The Struggle To Continue”

  1. Don, thanks a lot for your magic article! I believe in magic as well. Everytime when I walk with a camera and look for a photo I just keep in mind the belief that there are a lot of photos around me, but I just don’t see them (at some particular moment) (because of little experience or other reasons). So I should look for it more carefully, calmly, patiently and attentively. If it doesn’t help, well, then the next time could be a more luckier day 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Andrii, when I was younger I used to love fishing. One day I was at a stream and casting my line. An old man was near me and every time he caught a fish, he put it back in the water. Finally I went to him and asked why he did this. He asked me if I like to catch fish when I came out. I said of course, what else would I be doing here.

      He smiled and said catch a fish and put it back and catch it tomorrow. Andrii, when you go out to shoot, no need to do it all today, save some for tomorrow my friend. No guilt in being smart.

      1. The problem is I don’t know when that “tomorrow” will come 🙂 May be tomorrow, may be the next week or even later. It happens infrequently. And I mean 30m-2h per a shoot (day), during which I constantly feel time pressure. No way for all day or to take how much time I’d wish (well, it happens but rarely). So a shoot happens to be quite intensive. And I’d say that “shoot” is a loud word in my case, I’d say “practice” instead 🙂 Thank you for the cautionary tale my friend! It made me thinking on past (childhood) and present and on a lot of things (related and not).

        1. Andrii, perhaps the here and now means the here and now. Staying in the moment, means to be present in the moment and appreciating the passing breathes. I feel that hopefully there will be a moment and a here and now in the present but I choos to wait for it and stay in present so I don’t lose sight of it. The future un ravels the way it does. We can set course for it but not be in control of it. So, let it be and surrender to breathing now.

  2. I feel the same way. I usually wind up taking pictures in Manhattan where I live but sometimes I try to go to the other boroughs (or Philadelphia 🙂 ) every once in a while, but I usually wind up having to stay closer to home. Sometimes I’ll be on my way to work, or out somewhere without my camera and I’ll see something that makes me say to myself “I wish I had my camera. That would make a great picture”, but yet when I have my camera I can’t seem to find inspiration for anything.

    It really is about mindset or really having to look at things in different ways. Unfortunately, most people can’t constantly travel the world and see different things, so we have to force ourselves to focus on things we pass by every day but never take notice of, accepting it as just part of the street.

    1. Tina, wise words and a similar experience for many I am sure. I used to go out and make photos without my camera. It was a lesson in seeing and being stupid at the same time. I hate that feeling of, “I wish I had a camera with me”. So I avoid the and just stay persistent and find photos.
      If you ever want to meet while your here in Philly, I’d take you to lunch and maybe walk around and make photos. I know a Ramen house that’s amazing…..
      Thanks Tina, don

      1. That would be great, Don. I just might take you up on that. I do want to try and get to Philly again before it gets really cold outside. It will be nice to walk around with a fellow shooter, and I love ramen! 🙂

  3. On point Don, I was thinking that Cambridge Uk is small and I need to pop over to the big smoke (London) but actually the hidden stuff is happening all around and to follow up on a previous essay of your I am shooting less but finding it more..Thank you Sir.

  4. My Street work is messy lately. Your post has a special echo to me. I went in the streets a couple of time and there were no magic. Things were happening in front of me and I wasn’t able to see anything. I was physically in the street but my mind was may be somewhere else. What upset me the most was that I wasn’t enjoying anymore my walks with my camera. May be as you said, I should just go walking and observe the world as a friend of mine told me. Juts to refresh my photographic view without the camera. I just sat and had a reflexion on what has changed in my way of seeing or photographying, I might have find a tiny bit of answer. I was no more curious in the streets. Kids are curious, beginners are curious. I was no more. I have to force myself to be more curious to go forward. No matter how many years you have spent in a city, there are still things to discover. The city is vibrant, changing. It’s not frozen.
    I have to thank you for your words Don, looking forward your next blog !

    Cheers Jeff

    1. Jean,
      There are many ways to get a block. There are many ways to overcome them also. The most important thing is to not surrender to complacency, lack of inspiration, bad energy just to name a few. My next post will continue along the path and maybe bring more to the table.
      Cheers, don

  5. Don, thanks for reinforcing the concept of focus and intent. I have to remind myself of this when I am out on the street. Love the shots you have included in this post – especially the first one. It is very evocative and has magic. When I look at it the theme music from the X-Files starts playing in my mind. Strong work! Take care out there and have a great weekend.

  6. Hi Don, just found this blog. I’ve been a follower of you and Olivier on the Inspired eye and enjoy your behind the scenes. intent speaks loud and clear to me. As an actor the clarity of intention keeps you on the path to connection. And connection as an artist is all we have to keep discovering what’s new out there on the streets. I learn every day to keep ‘showing up’ and listening with an open heart. Thanks for your fresh eyes.

    1. Thanks Maria. It’s nice for us you find something enlightening in what we do. That alone provides energy to keep going.
      Be blessed….don

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