Once upon a time, before digital cameras, and personal computers…before photoshop and plugins, before exposure by histogram….and even before social media, there was an aspiring nature photographer (me) whose only concern in life was discovering subjects in great light, and recording the experience he was feeling at the moment.
It was a simpler time, a less crowded time, a quieter time (externally, and internally). I would go out with friends to make pictures several days a week just for the joy of it. It was a time when all of the work was done in-camera, i.e. applying filters for color correction and graduated neutral density filters to even out exposures. It was a time before the iPhone and before motor coaches delivering photo tourists to pristine locations. It was a time before working in the office took the majority of my time, rather than being out experiencing nature. It was a time when photographing and experiencing the wonder and glory of nature was my raison d’être.
I loved this experience so much, that I decided to make my living as a nature photographer. Very soon afterwards, however, the emphasis began to shift from the ethereal to the practical, from the spiritual to the mundane, from a hobby to a profession. With this paradigm shift came greater responsibilities and less time for play. It’s the nature of things.
Every so often, I will go back to my earliest work just to see if I get the same feeling viewing the image as I did when making it, but more importantly, to see if what I’m currently doing has emotionally evolved. Technique is important, but not as important as the emotion encountered when making the image. Isn’t this why we make an image to begin with? As a 20 year professional jazz artist (drummer), I could always tell if someone was in the moment or going through the motions. If you cannot “feel” what you are doing, no one else will get any feeling from it, either.
Upon getting back from photographing the lead image, close to our house, I wrote the following observation of what I was feeling:
an area is approached,
a line is crossed. Suddenly…
the pulse quickens,
exposures self-calculate. The shutter trips…
and many more times.
The pulse slows,
This chronicles my experience. It was transcendental. It was the same “go to” mental place as when performing improvised music. I recognized it instantly and wrote down “The Moment” in about 15 minutes. I remember feeling like I was merely taking dictation from an unknown source.
In the midst of workshops, seminars, book and DVD projects, travel, and an aging parent, I began to wonder, do I still have the ability to get into “the moment,” that timeless window of creativity? And the answer is Yes, I still get the rush, but it is a bit less frequent, as my time is not as free as it once was.
With 2015 on the horizon, my resolution is to get out every day when home, to enjoy the quietude of nature, and to move the scale back to better balance office work with the real work, and to photograph…..or not. The experience comes first, then the photograph.
It’s critical to not forget why you started to do something, as it’s so easy to lose sight of your initial motivation and inspiration.
I look forward to 2015 and beyond with eyes wide open and a greater sense of renewal: personally, photographically, and spiritually.
Have a joyous holiday season and an inspiring new year.
Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online.
oh yeah….almost forgot…….”and the photographer lived happily ever after.”