Monday, October 21, 2019

That time my soul exploded and an incredible thing happened when I least expected it.

I don't know how other creatives feel about the work they do.  
At times, I have felt like a hack.  Like what I was creating with my camera was just....stuff. Noise. Snapshots.  I get compliments on my work often.  I'm not looking to get my ego stroked but when I do get compliments, it feels good.  But then the only thing that I can think is "catholic guilt" sneaks in and makes me feel like I shouldn't be feeling that way. That I need remain humble.  I'm sure others that create things feel that way too.  When I started doing this on a more professional level a while back the only thing I wanted for my work was that potentially 100 years from now an image I created would be hanging somewhere.  In a house, or maybe a museum or anywhere really.  I just wanted to leave my mark on the world.  Wanted to be remembered as someone who just didn't sit behind a computer all day making sure they kept working, but as something more.  Well, yesterday something happened that I was never expecting and I was humbled.  And I think now, I can feel a bit of pride calling myself an artist.
On Sunday the 20th of October, an event was held once again called "Art on the Alley" in the city near where I live.  It's a chance for local artisans to, affordably, rent a space and set up shop to show and sell your creations.  I've been fortunate enough have done 2 others before this and it's always been a great experience not just selling work, (which I did), but also talking with people about it.  Plus it's a great chance to spend the day with my wife who is also an artist and just get our art groove on.  As the day progressed yesterday, the crowds would come and go, stopping along the way to the vendors to see what they had.  Sometimes there would be many, other times just a couple, but with the beautiful mid-60's October day with clear blue sky and a young woman playing the violin nearby, it just was an incredible scene.  So I was in a good head-space.  Then, a person (whom will remain completely anonymous), came up to my table.  They introduced themselves to me and because of the noise I had a difficult time hearing them. The person went on to tell me that they have been following my work for some time now on Facebook and because of their condition, they can't get out much.  They went on to tell me how my photography gives them a lot of happiness and doesn't make them feel so isolated.  They are able to follow along and see what I see out there in the world.
I didn't know what to say.  I thanked them and wished them well as they moved on along the line of vendors and my wife gave me a "what's wrong?" look as I turned away from the table.  I told her I needed a minute until the table was cleared from someone looking at the prints.  When they left, I broke down.  I told Denise about it.  My work...the thing I do with my camera that I have a love and a passion for, has been able to give someone some solace and escape from their problems in life.  
No amount of sales, no amount of social media shares/likes, no amount of anything has ever impacted me more that that person stopping by and telling me that.
So, thank you, person.  I mean, I am sorry what you are going through, truly.  But knowing that what I do brings you some comfort and happiness, well, you just gave me a new drive with my work.  And importantly, the ability to finally see myself as an artist.  
You've lit a fire in my soul. 
I stole a line from another artist. When I go out to shoot, my prayer has become, "Let the creator of the universe, create through me."  I think that Creator sent that person to me to allow me to finally see that it's okay to feel how I feel about that work.  And taking that forward I feel will only make me better.

Monday, July 22, 2019

That time I fell out of love with photography

I've been telling myself almost weekly that I need to get back to blogging.  Years ago in my "day job" career, blogging was a very useful tool to network with others and share information.  But as time went on, my blog started to fade as Twitter and Facebook took off.  So, my apologies for not posting any new content as of late.  This post should make up for that.

So why the title, "That time I fell out of love with photography"? 

Simple.  Because I did.  

Well, maybe not completely, but I did get to a point where I found it hard to create.  All creators go through it from time to time, I'm sure.  But I hit that wall.  It got to the point where I didn't even want to pick up the camera.  But them something changed.  I picked up a camera, but it was a film camera.
My walk through the world of photography started 35 or so years ago after I moved with my parents from Detroit to a town called Hudson in Ohio.  One of the classes the school offered was black and white photography.  I learned how to take pictures, develop the negatives and created pictures with an enlarger; you know, the "old school" method.  Well, as I've written about elsewhere, with those skills, I wanted to become the next Ansel Adams.  But the lesson learned then was that the world already had one and I wasn't that good.  So, I put the film away and then some years later I picked up digital and I hadn't looked back.  That was until recently.  Over the past several years every now and again I would order some black and white film from the internet and ship it off to have it developed.  The results were fantastic.  With all the recent advances in technology with digital imaging, there's one thing I found that digital can't do.  Digital images look beautiful but sometimes are without a soul.  Film somehow has a way of showing that soul more clearly than digital ever can.  So in the summer of 2018, I bought a medium format film camera, a Mamiya m645.  It's the type of camera I always dreamed of when I was younger, but they were thousands of dollars back then.  But luckily for me I only spent $125 on a used body and a lens.  I of course bought a couple rolls of film and instantly I was transported back to the late 1980.  When you shoot film, it's the great unknown.  Did I hit the exposure correctly?  Is it in focus?  Lot's of "if's".  And of course, having the wait for the film to be developed at the lab and the digital scans to post online always seemed like forever.  When I saw the results, that old feeling and love for creating started coming back quickly.

Since those first couple of rolls I shot and sent out for development, I went ahead and bought a developing tank, chemistry, and a quality Epson scanner.  I'm now once again doing something I did many years ago in my parents basement in my own home.  And the results have been fantastic.  I'll go out and shoot some film, come home, load it into the tank and develop it in my kitchen sink.  When it's done, I hang it up to dry and then scan the images into my computer rather than use an enlarger and make prints.  Actually, since I started doing this technique again I have been very successful at some recent art shows with people wanting these images over the digital color ones.

So the moral of this story for another create who feels that they've hit a wall, keep going.  But, find another way to channel your creative juices.  You may just find it's the kick you need to get your mojo back.