I don’t know where to go with photography. I don’t know what I want to do. But I want to do something. And I don’t think I’m alone. There have been one or two or three blog posts that have sparked conversation about the future of photography. The author of the posts basically argues that most photographers today are looking backward and recreating what has already been made. He asks, when and how will they look forward, when and how will they push the medium into new territory. And in particular when will digital photography become inherently and natively digital.
Oddly enough, I recently learned about a few Lightroom presets that I like a lot. And I like them because they look to me like analog film prints. That’s what you are seeing here. Over the past few weeks, with the long daylight hours, I’ve been going to the road down to Tilden Park, parking by the side of the road, and taking pictures of stumps. At some point in history someone cut down these trees and left the stumps, and I’m very curious why.
And while I say I want to do something with photography and I don’t know what that is, I’m also (still) realizing that I am primarily a snapshooter. I don’t have projects per se, I only have a bunch of random pictures, some of which duplicate or complement other pictures that I have already taken. And that seems to be OK. I not only love pictures and photography I love the act of taking pictures. Perhaps I’m just a blog post shooter, only able to cobble together a few pictures around a thought or theme, enough for a blog post and nothing more. Nothing grand, nothing lasting.
Lee has often worked without a specific project in mind, simply making pictures of what he saw, in order, as Garry Winogrand said, to see what it looked like photographed. This way of working led him to look at his contact sheets (of which there have been an astonishing number) to find out what was there that he might not have expected. His shadow, and more clearly defined versions of himself, turned up with regularity. At some point early on Lee realized that he was making self-portraits along with many other photographs that were defining a new landscape for all of us who saw his work. There is a great lesson in this for photographers of today who dedicate themselves to one project or another, failing to understand that the best work might come from an obsession with the medium rather than the personally oriented choice of what might be done with it. Lee always has a camera with him and is constantly making pictures.
I admit to a healthy dose of obsession with photography myself. It feels random, scattered, unfocused, undisciplined… but I suppose if I simply keep doing it then what I want to do will make itself apparent. Or perhaps what I want to do is to just do it. Transitions, or maybe just more of the same? Camera in hand we’ll go find out.
Filed under: Berkeley, Thinking About Photography, This Is What I Saw, Tilden Park |
Tags: B&W, Rich GXR, Ricoh A12 50mm, Ricoh A12 Mount, Tilden Park, Zeiss C Sonnar 50/1.5