Let's review the old ways, shall we? The creation of a photographic image has always been a multi-stage process. Load the film, trip the shutter, unload the film onto stainless steel reels to develop, and then, finally, fire up the enlarger and have at it. Even in a digital world, the process is largely, if only slightly imperfectly, analogous. Insert card into reader, create folder, download images. In other words, it's always been, as Mr. Adams instructed us, a formally constructive event from beginning to end.
I have no problem with any of this, of course. In fact, I've been celebrating it for almost half a century, so I'm in no position to be critical. But I've recently discovered that the way I'm approaching my craft now has turned this paradigm upside down. I refer, of course, to my ever-expanding use of the iPhone, and my growing awareness of photography's zen. They arrived at this party in separate cars but are leaving it hand-in-hand.
What I'm embracing is the counter-intuitive way I go about creating the image now. There is no second-part after I make the exposure, no loading up the card-reader, no folders to create and label. I go everywhere with my iPhone and am constantly moved -- compelled, even -- to take pictures. These then magically appear in my Photos program on the Mac with no further effort on my part. They're just...there. It's a wholly dissociative process, and I'm happy to take creative advantage of it.
I'm allowed to actually discover, rather than re-construct, the image that had somehow captured my attention in the first place. Yes, occasionally it's disappointing (life is like that, sometimes), but more often than not it's fresh and surprising (life is like that sometimes, too). I've gone back, usually much later, to see and be moved by elements in an image that I was not really aware of at the time I took it. I'm seeing them again for the first time. And that's the point.
Photography is all about, and only about, being in the moment. I'm trying not to think about what will come after, I want only to be lost in the visual now. The discoveries will come later, and will arrive on the wings of their own moment. So I'm sorry, Ansel. I'm no longer pre-visualizing, I'm just, well...visualizing.
Whatever process you use to feed that creative voice is great and legit and possibly even groovy; don't let anyone tell you otherwise. But this is what I'm using more and more to find my voice, and my zen. It's been working, it's been fun, and it's all I really need.
Well, that and good walking shoes. And coffee.