Photography vs. Being a Photographer


Dexter Lake Reflection I, 25 April 2019


“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793)

Each day dawns with tossing and turning, first thoughts given to what was needed for the day. How to earn a living being creative? How to dig deeper into that interior terrain through larger chinks with no thought to the business end of framed photograph distribution? Have I lost touch with what is practical, like a child running amok, acting out an imitation of the adults’ performance?

So days are spent wondering what to do, how to do it, where energy should go. Imagine my surprise to find there are so many other considerations beyond looking down a long lens at a bearded iris! I have leapt but not landed. Would you wonder, like I do, if the wind whipping past you was from falling, or an updraft lifting you higher?

Abstract images are a comfort in this liminal state, suggesting it’s okay to not understand where the edges, boundaries, surfaces lie. The image sits there just being, allowing your observation without making an effort to represent anything.

Is abstraction a visual expression of equanimity then, in its expression of peace and self possession? Is there a message of acceptance in an image that doesn’t lift a finger to accommodate the expectation of order, explanation, representation?

Anyhoodle, I wander; typical. That’s the struggle. I could naval gaze for millennia, ponder the falling of a magnolia petal when its branch was disturbed by the alighting of Raven and the sound the still-fresh falling former flower as it alights on the dry, crusty ground beneath the tree. Down there, beneath the old tree, a shadowed room is so dark, grass won’t grow there. I could think those thoughts all day, every day, coffee cup nearby as I sit in my corner office watching the yard go through its seasons.

But what does a career photographer do during the day to pay the bills? How do I find those who need an image on their wall, or a gift, or a special project made real? How do I make a living being the creative goofball smarty-pants I’ve grown into being? Will the world welcome the product of my creativity, my eye, my words in a way that keeps me out of wage-slavedom, or will it all fall apart because I started too late, too far behind?

These thoughts take a break as I fall into these abstract images. I catch my breath, unsure if I’m under water or not, but pretty sure I’m all wet.

Author: Martha in the Moment

Just another human navigating this crazy era, trying to make sense of the lightning-fast changes that keep coming at all of us. Benedictions, all.

3 thoughts on “Photography vs. Being a Photographer”

  1. So much of artistry is not focused (regardless of focal point or lens length) on the ability to gain revenue. We also live in a society, dare I say a culture, that does not value artistry. Instead, it is focused with a laser beam on profit, and making more profit, regardless of the spiritual, emotional, cultural, or planetary costs.

    The way that you see (and document) the world is a gift, and I hope that you are able to find a way to turn that into something that both pays the bills and nourishes your soul.

    Today’s RG had an article about Moderne Studio closing, citing (besides cell phone cameras*) the desire for “studio” portraits to be taken outdoors. You might find it an interesting read.

    * Not just the proliferation of cell phone cameras but the unfounded belief that the ability to take photos anywhere makes one a photographer.

    Like

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