Commitment

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I have just watched  a short film made about a photographer I greatly admire, Chris Tancock.  His dedication, patience and commitment to his art are humbling to say the very least. For all the time he sits patiently waiting to capture the image he seeks, his work looks fresh, spontaneous and resolutely uncontrived.

Michael Jackson - another  photographer whose work I find inspiring -  spends his time walking Poppit Sands and the vast majority of his wonderfully creative and beautifully observed images are taken on this one stretch of beach.  Again, it is easy to feel inadequate when faced with such single-mindedness and restraint. 

My initial reaction - along with many others on the Twitter community -  on watching the afrore-mentioned film, was one of despondency and a conviction that I am unequal to the task. I know that such dedication and commitment is beyond me. Then I recalled - as I often do at such moments -  a story that was told to me by Jay Maisel when I attended one of his workshops many years ago. 

"A friend of mine brought a cardboard box to one of my presentations. I asked him, why the box? He said there will be two groups of people in the audience today. Half will leave before the presentation is over because they will have to go outside and take pictures. The other half will want to leave their cameras in this box"

I don't want to be the person who leaves my camera in the box. Unlike Chris Tancock I can't spend hours (days, even) on end in a bivouac. I suspect there are few who can. Ultimately, we all have to approach our photography in a way that suits our personality and fits into our increasingly busy lives. 

I have just returned from a whistle-stop tour around Yellowstone National Park and surrounding states. In a perfect world I would have spent hours -  or preferably days - driving around, looking, absorbing, thinking about what I wanted to say. In reality, I was travelling with my mother and my husband, and - patient though they are - such an investment of time at the expense of their holiday is not really viable or indeed fair.

 The dying of the light takes its inspiration from the Dylan Thomas poem - it seemed an appropriate title for the many hundreds of bleached and skeletal trees we saw, so beautifully backlit by the sun on the golden leaves of the fading aspens behind. Although I didn't spend as long in the field as I would have wished, I had plenty of time behind the wheel, driving from state to state, with the opportunity to think things through and decide how best to present what I had witnessed. Little editing was required - in-camera multiple exposure had muted the detail and enhanced the delicate spidery branches.

So we have to make the best of what we have.  Frustrating though it is to see the endeavour required by Chris Tanock et al to produce such seemingly effortless work, it ultimately pushes us forward and helps us advance our own creative exploration.

 
 

4 Comments

  1. Michael Jackson on 21/05/2016 at 9:22 am

    Only just read this Valda. i think everyone has their own direction and way of working. It seems to me as if you have found your direction just fine – without the need for endless hours sitting in a damp field or on a cold beach. You’re the smart one!

  2. valdab on 21/05/2016 at 9:23 am

    Thanks Mike – I’m sure I’m not the only one who never stops questioning, analysing and looking for answers. And yes, the fewer damp fields the better these days

  3. Rosalind Reilly on 21/05/2016 at 9:23 am

    HI VALDA – jUST WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSPIRATIONAL WORK AND FOR THE INFORMATION YOU SHARE ABOUT IT. i JOINED fOTOBLUR ABOUT A YEAR AGO AND fLICKR EVEN MORE RECENTLY AND. i’VE BEEN CRAVING A NEW DIRECTION BUT HAVEN’T KNOWN HOW TO FIND MY WAY. I FEAR i HAVE HAD MY CAMERA IN THAT BOX FAR TOO MUCH! hOPE i DON’T SEEM LIKE A STALKER – i AM NOT, i ASSURE YOU! lOVE YOUR IMAGES!

  4. valdab on 21/05/2016 at 9:25 am

    Many thanks Rosalind – kind of you to say. One thing is for sure, as long as the camera stays in the box, you won’t get anywhere. Get out there, get shooting 🙂

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