Art and craft

Geese were gathering in fields along the Susquehanna and their numbers increased over the weekend. I drove into town yesterday before sunrise and returned along the river in the bright light of day. To my surprise, the number of birds had increased dramatically so I took a look in the rear view mirror and pulled over. I grabbed the HX9V and thought, at first, that the increased height of the truck bed might provide a good vantage. I was wrong. I jumped down, walked across the road and approached the birds in a wide arc to the east and along the boundary between an obliging corn field and someone’s backyard. Working with the image below and seeing it now, as it is presented here, has caused me to reflect on the nature of my photography. I have been struggling with the fear of not ever being more than a guy who happens to be able to take a good snap shot. Simply reading that sentence makes me shudder. I want to be very good at this and would rather jettison the endeavor than limp along as an entirely mediocre photographer. When I was quite young my mother realized that I was a high-energy child in need of ways of dissipating excess ATPs. To that end she worked very hard to keep me busy. In addition to school and homework I can remember dabbling in magic, hockey, baseball, wrestling, skiing, tennis, sailing, SCUBA, model building, piano, photography, and the saxophone. Joanna has been every bit as smart as my mother in this regard and realized, even before we were married, that my excess energies needed an outlet. The farm has very effectively channeled, diffused, and otherwise made safe those energies for more than a quarter century but now that things on the farm have slowed somewhat, the need for additional outlets has become necessary. Joanna has always been supportive of my interest in photography. I understand that we all need a preoccupation, something to keep us busy, but I don’t want this interest to become just another saxophone.

This is not a call for gratuitous accolades (for those cannot help), it is simply my attempt to make sense of what it is I have been trying to do with my photography and my aspirations for it. If you follow the comments which appear on this blog you may have read this recent reply of mine … Photo Seminars, Photo Courses, Photo Field Trips, Photo Lessons, On-Line Photo Coaching, Photo School, Photo College, Photo University, Photo Camps, Photo Books, How-To DVDs, Photo _____ (fill-in-the-blank), are absolutely, and totally, NOT MY STYLE. I’m not saying that they can’t work for certain people, but they are not for me. In any case, I wouldn’t want my images to be modeled after or in any way to mimic the work of others, and I think that’s what happens when someone tries to teach you to be a better photographer. I truly believe that one becomes a better photographer by taking lots of images and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like, but that is not nearly enough. I need a more critical, unbiased, and artistic eye to critique what it is I’m doing. I don’t want to take pretty snap shots. I want to create art, but I’m not sure I know how … and I’m not sure I would know it when I saw it. Some would say that art happens and that lessons cannot reveal its secrets; lessons can, perhaps, effectively teach craft, but not art. Some say that art is magical, elusive, such that the more one pursues it, the more it fades from view. Joanna would say I need to exercise a bit of Patience and Perseverance, perhaps she is right … once again?


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