The Zen and the Art of Making Pictures.
Written initially (although I tweaked it a bit) for the ASMP Strictly Business Blog in December 2015, as I work my way through the global pandemic, I find that this blog post captures some of what I am doing right now, today to work through the stress and turbulence of 2020.
I’m a photographer. I “frame” my world. But sometimes I can’t see anything. Sometimes it is something outside my world that blocks my view; most often, it is inside my head. Whatever the cause, the prescription is the same; I have to shoot my way through it.
I credit Chicago photographer Jim Krantz for the phrase that is now my go-to solution. It describes the action I have taken for most of my life when self-doubt, insecurity, low self-confidence, fear, or plain-old “I just don’t know what to do” blues hit me. Whatever the reason – whatever the why – the only way out is to pick up a camera and frame my world.
For some reason, I find self-imposed limitations help. This is mostly true when I am scratching what could be an idea or working my way through a project. I select one lens, one camera – I limit myself to a few choices. By boxing myself in, I give myself boundaries that allow me to feel safe to explore.
Sometimes, I walk with a camera, not always to create a new project but to allow myself the space to think more clearly. The walking and looking, especially in a place I haven’t walked in before, will enable me to see what will connect the dots.
Driving can also help me break through a block. I find that it is best to drive without purpose. Bicycling is good, too. I especially like to bicycle in places where I don’t typically walk or drive my car.
I remember one bike ride in the outer banks one, particularly bountiful summer. The light was perfect. I was using all of my senses for ideation.
I took a walk in Philadelphia a few years ago, exploring the city with my camera, “following the light” with no particular subject in mind. I took some beautiful pictures. I remember using a Nikon F2A with a 58mm lens; that detail’s not essential, although I remember it. I’d love to show you the photographs – they were spectacular – but I can’t. I somehow forgot to load the film that day. A rare occurrence, but I was so used to shooting with my digital camera that I simply forgot to check the film. It didn’t matter, though. It was that walk and the act of shooting through it that helped me work out the project I was working through in my mind.