This week I had the great pleasure of a rainy Portland photowalk (a common event) with one of my favorite photographers, Laurie Excell (a not-as-common event, which we will hopefully rectify.) Accompanied by my wife Nancy, who brought her watercolorist's eye for fantasy, we tramped the tracks and warehouses of southeast Portland and wandered through the warrens of a place called Cargo, which I had only discovered a few days earlier. Granted, these excursions may not carry the emotional weight of, say, a birthday party (of which I have had far too many, anyway) but for me these are a source of unfettered joy and creativity far outweighing the benefits of a simple hike. I highly recommend this; it's good medicine.
There is an energy in the company of cohorts and co-conspirators that I find irresistible. Colleagues or students, artists or poets, Jedi or Padawan; it takes more than one set of eyes to peel back the layers that often stand in the way of seeing what's there. Even in the studio I have always looked at the portrait session as more of a collaboration than a project. There's strength in numbers, to be sure, and a lot of creative energy. And someone usually knows a great place for coffee.
But here's the interesting thing, for me anyway. I like to get to those images on my computer just as quickly as I can, while the excitement of discovery is still fresh in my mind. There's always those one or two that leap out and demand my attention all over again, just as they did when I pointed the camera at them. The rest of them hide in the bushes, waiting for me to come walking by later so they can trip me and laugh. It's a habit I developed way back in the dark(room) ages, to purposefully let an image alone to percolate for a while, and see it as something new and fresh and exciting days, sometimes weeks, later. Great things are often hiding in the things you photograph; you saw it at the time, but just didn't know it.
I won't go so far as to compare the photo (be it a negative or a raw file) to a graceful wine that improves with age; it's a dumb cliché and anyway I prefer harder stuff. More like a casserole left in the 'fridge: it's always better the next day.
So let me know if you want to go out photowalking with me. I'm trying to make this a more regular part of my life; it's great exercise for a healthy heart and restless mind.
It's good medicine.