Here's a thought

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HT1884 - Sample Notes

Earlier this week I was discussing the importance of note taking in our creative life. We need to capture those fleeting ideas before we lose them. A listener asked what kinds of notes are the useful ones to capture. Here are some samples from my own notebooks.


HT1885 - The Most Important Tool in the Darkroom

Ansel Adams used to preach that the most important tool in his dark room was the garbage can. I believe the corollary in the digital workflow is the virtual copy. I've often thought that the terms "making art" and "editing" are synonyms for the same activity. If you don't progress through at least a half a dozen drafts, I think you are fooling yourself.


HT1886 - Private Work

The real work of the artist all takes place outside of the spotlight. If a pianist doesn't enjoy practice, they will never be an accomplished performer. If a photographer doesn't love the darkroom or studio work, that will be obvious in their prints. Toiling away on one's own is the heart of the art life.


HT1887 - Obscurity Is Inevitable

I distinctly remember in my youth being encouraged to consider archival properties and longevity of my images as one of the primary goals of processing my prints. It was just assumed that it was important that our work survive 50 or 100 years when it would be valued by generations yet unborn. But now that I've been in photography for 50 years, I can't help but notice that my bookshelves are filled with photographers who have disappeared in the obscurity of time. I know that's the fate for my work, too, and that prompts me to consider other strategies.

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HT1888 - Photography's Fascination with the Rare

Ask most people what makes a fabulous landscape photograph and they will unhesitatingly say a fabulous landscape. That is, the magic is out there. This implies that the photographer is simply a faithful recorder of the scene. Ask most photographers what they actually do when they are out photographing and they will tell you they are looking for the spectacular scene.


HT1889 - A Self-assessment

On a whim, I decided to look back at the entire collection of my work that has been published in Kokoro. So far, that consists of 172 projects containing 2,432 images. I was happy and proud to publish every one of them — at the time. Needless to say, some have not stood the test of time as well as others. That's good.


HT1890 - Experiences or Things

A friend of mine is downsizing in preparation for moving to a retirement community. She can't find anyone who wants her extensive collection of sheet music. Another friend is finding it difficult to find a home for her collection of dinnerware and silver. No one wants them. It seems like the younger generation values collecting experiences far more than collecting things. I've come to regard this as the joy and burden of ownership. What are the implications for our fine art photographs?


HT1891 - Grabbed by Artwork

I suppose all of us have, from time to time, been mesmerized by a piece of artwork. It grabs us, it seduces our attention, it fills our consciousness. Why? What is it about a piece of artwork that gives it this power to influence us so deeply? Maybe not 100% of the time, but most frequently I find this happens when the artwork engages my imagination, when it allows me to drop my normal awareness of the world and to be transported to a world of its making.


HT1892 - The Time to Make a Picture

Let's take just a moment to think what a miracle is photography. Before photography, think how long was required to make a picture. Drawing one l line at a time, adding one brushstroke at a time. Pictures were relatively rare and treasured. That way of relating to pictures leaked over to photography in its earliest days. Compare that to the bombardment of pictures that assault us every day! Our pictures aren't special because they are pictures, they need to connect through content to be special.


HT1893 - Dry Spells and Damp Spells

Wouldn't we all love to be creatively on fire every day, every moment. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Instead, we have times when we are productive and times we are not. We think of those fallow times as "dry spells" which can be accompanied by guilt. But there's also a spell that is neither dry nor productive and can be an incredibly useful time in a creative life. I think of them as "damp spells."


HT1894 - Postponing Your Art Life

No one begins their photographic journey by immediately leaping into 40-inch prints. We all start small, 5x7, or 8x10. Then somehow we get gripped with the idea that bigger is better. Rather than turn our attention to making more personal, more meaningful, or insightful photographs it becomes so much easier to pursue the greater technical challenges of large prints, thereby postponing the launch of our real art life.


HT1895 - The Fun Components

Photography can be hard work. For most of us, the work of artmaking also includes lots of fun and pleasant entertainment. Which parts of photography do you find the most fun? As a hobby, wouldn't it make sense to increase those components and to strategize ways to reduce the work? For example, I dislike framing, so I either use presentation methods that don't involve framing, or I pay someone to do my framing for me.


HT1896 - A Book Group for Photography

I suspect many of you are a member of a book group of one kind or another. Have you ever heard of a photography book group? I never have. In fact, I think this could be a wonderful idea. I'm often grateful to hear how others think about a photograph or a group of photographs. Seems to me like it would be easy enough to put something together on Zoom. Hmmm. . .


HT1897 - Dinner in an Art House

I had dinner this week at a friend's whom I'd recently met. The minute I walked in his modest house, I felt a vibe that I would characterize as "an art house." His house was filled with art, his tables with pottery and art books, and every wall had a display of beautiful framed work in every possible medium. After dinner, I had a chance to go from room to room to see what artwork he collected. Only later, the next morning, did I realize that every piece of artwork on his walls was smaller than 11x14.


HT1898 - Collectors vs Consumers

When asked, I think most fine art photographers would have to confess that they would love to see their work become "collectible." I understand the motivations for validation that come with collectability and museum exhibition. It's curious, however, how different are the motivations of collectors compared to consumers.


HT1899 - The Difference Between Snapshots and Art

I guess I've always been a bit snootish in my attitude towards snapshots versus fine art photography. But the more I think about it, the more I've begun to question my assumptions. Snapshots are form of memory, but don't we experience that with our fine art photography? What is the difference between a snapshot and a fine art photograph?


HT1900 - Internet Numbers

Call me a cynic, call me a disbeliever, call me an irascible conspiracy theorist, but I simply don't believe the numbers reported by websites like YouTube. When I see that some new and unknown YouTube influencer is reported to have a half a million views of their video, I simply don't believe it. We have no idea how Google tallies those numbers, but knowing the statistics for our websites here at LensWork, I find it hard to believe when I read the download statistics from social media websites. Something funny is going on here.


HT1901 - Used Frames

I mentioned a while back that I stayed with some friends who had a couple of hundred framed pieces of art on their walls. It occurred to me that they had an incredibly wide variety of styles of frames. I asked them about this. They explained that the cost of framing is so high that they get all their frames from thrift shops and other second hand stores. This is a great idea.

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HT1902 - Single-minded Attention

One of the reasons I love the creative aspects of photography is that doing photography seduces me into a single-minded and thoroughly focused attention. In fact, without that level of immersion, I find my photographs are remote, emotionless, empty.


HT1903 - Tilting at Photographic Windmills

To some degree, the purpose of photography is to replicate the human experience. Isn't this an impossible pursuit? If the purpose of a photograph is not to give us the experience of standing there and seeing the world with our own eyes, then what is the purpose of a photograph?


HT1904 - Structure Imposed Discipline

Art making is such a frivolous activity in so much that no one really cares whether or not we make artwork. Because we don't have to, it's easy to relegate our art life to the nebulous future when someday we'll have the time to do so. This is where a structure can be handy. Self-imposed projects like a photo a day, or a commitment to exhibit can provide a little nudge of incentive.


HT1905 - Explaining a Photograph

I'm fascinated by how often I hear photographers talk about their images by explaining what they were trying to accomplish. Does the photograph not accomplish that without the verbiage? There are good reasons for producing image and text combinations, but using text (or talk) to justify or explain a photograph is almost always going to end up diminishing the artwork.


HT1906 - Ideas That Go Nowhere

Sometimes photographic project ideas come rushing at me with such momentum that they're completion is inevitable and accomplished quickly. Other times, I'll have an idea that seems to go nowhere. Over the years, I've learned to not discount those ideas that don't come to fruition quickly. Even project ideas that are decades old could suddenly become alive with meaning and a newfound energy. The trick is to develop your method for preserving ideas until they ripen.


HT1907 - Laserdisc, Betamax, and Photography

Perhaps this is a flawed analogy, but I can't help but look back at the history of technology and conclude that widespread adoption is more important than ultimate quality. Does this also apply to our photographic work? As artists, we tend to want to pursue perfection at all costs. But, like technology, is it just possibly a better strategy to pursue widespread distribution rather than that last 2% of quality improvements?


HT1908 - The Little Things

When I haven't photographed for a while, it seems like a bit of rust always develops, on me. I went out photographing a few days ago and boy was I rusty. Diopter dial was moved. Focus stacking lever. Couldn't remember which direction to turn the zoom ring. Lost a Spider Holster pin when I dropped it and lost it. Geez.


HT1909 - A World with No Cameras

What would you do if you were to wake up to find yourself in a world with no cameras? Would you still be an art creator with a different medium? Or, is your relationship with photography so photographic that without photography you would not create artwork?


HT1910 - My Grandfather's Voice

Ours is the first generation in the history of the planet to have at our disposal such readily available means to record our memories. When our family members die, all their memories, stories, and history go with them.


HT1911 - Style Is Not Content

This week Panasonic introduced a new camera that incorporates wide variety of picture styles that can be instantly applied in camera. These styles go by the technical name of LUT, an acronym for lookup table. Supposedly this will make your photographs more artistic. I'm not so sure.