This may sound like I'm selling out, but here goes anyway. Well, maybe not full-blown blasphemy, but certainly my contrarian side will be again in full view. And all this while i'm really in a pretty good mood too. The summer is finally over. Now I can get some work done.
And here's what's been on this cranky mind: a couple of articles I read online worrying about the state of creative photography these days when everyone -- everyone -- is walking around with every manner of imaging device, the thought being that ubiquity was cheapening the field. Practitioners themselves are living with a big dose of self-doubt, too. A young friend confessed to me last week that, absent training and a really good camera, he wasn't sure that what he was doing could legitimately be called photography. Well of course it is, and more power to ya.
But the argument goes back a long, long way; all the way to the beginning. Creative imaging, of course, was limited to what the trained human hand could put down on canvas or paper, so the invention of mechanical devices and their constituent chemistry fully democratized the creative process. Any person clever enough (and patient enough) could now produce a marketable image. Painters must indeed have felt their livelihoods, if not their egos, threatened.
Though it was George Eastman who cemented the imaging revolution in the popular mind, the pandemic of digital technology gave it its universal weight. The sheer enormity of the number of images being made daily -- hourly -- is indeed overwhelming and may otherwise bury the gems that still come through, but gems there are, and they're worth seeking out. As I told my friend, I make it a point to see at least 100 photographs every day, and read at least a couple of thoughtful articles pertaining to the art and craft (and, yes, the history) of photography.
In the end, it doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot what gets your creative juices flowing. Whether you have a nifty new camera or a garden variety smartphone, pay heed to the impulse to use it. The urge to create something beautiful is so human and so necessary, and if it takes a hundred tries to get the one you want, so be it. Nobody's keeping count.
Many of us have spent our lives studying this craft and perfecting our skills to make a good living from it. This may be the path you've started down; I know I'm approaching the end of mine. But if we have in common the shared love of a beautiful photographic image and the insistent urge to create them, then we're on the same journey. Legitimately, authentically, photography.
Blasphemy, I know. Right?
Oh, and a p.s: My friend Keri helped upload my blog to Squarespace (they're the greatest!) making it more seamlessly integrated into my website and also easier to post a comment and subscribe to via email. I encourage both, and look forward to hearing from you. I love a good argument.