Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Go Suck at Something Else For Awhile

In photography I am more interested in my flexibility to change form than I am at mastery of a definitive style.

During a conversation with a fellow photographer I received critiquing about how to improve my seeing-photography skills. In a nutshell it was go towards what scares the hell out of you. For me, that is getting close to the unknown subject.

What I learned was that my ability to see has become boxed in. The other day I went out to shoot "street photography" and I ended up shooting landscape photography that happened to be out on the streets, rather than in the woods or atop a city skyline.

In truth the work was a failure with a lucky success. I failed because I did not shoot what I wanted to photograph, especially in my minds-eye. I would have rather came home with bad street photography, which I can grow upon, than a good set of accidental landscape portraits set in a city background.

In the summer of 1987 my parents took me to Beale Street in Memphis, TN as a graduation present from high school. I was, still am, that kid mystified by music. The memory or moment that changed me forever was when I was standing in line, waiting to get in to an R&B club, when an older couple remarked “who does that little white boy think he is wearing a Miles Davis t-shirt”. Truthfully I had no idea who Miles was. To me the shirt was pop culture. I could have easily been wearing a Che or tie dyed Bob Marley shirt.

That moment of being uncomfortable excited me to explore all avenues of music, in turn all avenues of photography.

My iPod is filled with music that interests me, not all music that I particularly enjoy. I keep going back to what I can’t understand but nonetheless intrigues me.

That is the photography lesson; being good at something boxes you in. I would venture to guess once your boxed in you are no longer as good as you once were.

I am going to go out and take a lot of bad street-photos until a get a couple of good ones . Than I’ll go suck at something else for awhile.

Thanks to Miles Davis.