Over Easy: Camera Work
Earlier this week, I brought up the concept of Image Collecting. I used this idea many times while teaching Photography at Mt Hood Community College. It’s not original; Minor White used it often. It makes a point.
Photography is very seductive. It requires no skill with brush, palette knife, stone working tools etc. Just “Point and Shoot” right? Correct. Point and shoot. “You press the button, We Do the Rest”, a slogan I recall courtesy of Eastman Kodak. But at what? Well, in a course in Photography, we do actually take the time to discover what “We Do the Rest” involves, and right there, drop outs start. Those who stay on become your best students, because they get into the nitty gritty. (Dept of Field did give pause for some!). Eventually, out they go, with the knowledge that magic happens in the dark room and they are the magicians, propels them into a state of mind that everything is photographable. Again, correct. Until you shoot the photo, it hasn’t been done. Well, maybe! And therein lies the concept behind Image Collecting. And Camera Work, because while it is fun exhilarating, and rewarding, it is actually work. After a day in the field, one does sleep rather well.
So what are you collecting? It turns out that unconsciously , we begin taking pictures that have already been taken. As time goes on, we also start re-taking the same pictures! And so a bit of a crisis unfolds. Where do we go from here?
There are but three possibilities: Quit, go on imitating, or grow.
There are many photographers that do well at the go on imitating. After all, they mastered a particular process, and since things like shooting conditions, environment changes or changes to the process itself encourage another look. There can be a deliberate effort to do so.
The third option, to grow, takes the most dedication, and time. I’ve heard it said that true mastery of an art involves something like 10,000 hours of practice. 10,000 hours of seeing, making the camera and post processing second nature seems reasonable to me.
So then, we come full circle. We have met the challenge, and the challenge is us.