Gardner Hamilton’s quote, “a [photographer] is someone who does not necessarily go out with a mission, but someone who is [or becomes] mentally aware of when they have walked into a photograph” sticks with me. The quote comes against the question of what influences the photographer’s perception and readiness as he or she comes to a photograph. As we come to the moment of opening the shutter, preoccupations, Life events (digested and undigested) and distractions shape how we are vulnerable to the scene and what becomes the image.
There is duality in how any photograph is arrived at. In one instance, it is Life’s clutter that promotes the withdrawal and escape that produces a photograph – the need to see and experience visually, the new, something other. In another instance, it is the decluttering in dealing with one’s psychological hygiene that creates the readiness, openness and choices that result in the photograph. Beyond this, one’s personal baggage and one’s habits as a photographer can serve as ballast shaping what the photograph becomes or directing the photographer to the photograph, connecting him/her to the image created – that ballast becomes one’s style.
Within past weeks, I have witnessed a convergence of ideas that promote dealing with one’s psychological hygiene in prayer, meditation and journaling. Blog posts of Creatives chronicle the experience of possessing a solid foundation built on healthy psychological hygiene as launching pad for Creative pursuit. The clutter of your ‘stuff’ – your events, your history, the stuff you need to own – needs to be dealt with so you can move on and make creative choices. Krista Tippett has interviewed Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman, pioneers in bringing Buddhism to America in her ‘On Being’ podcast entitled Embracing Our Enemies and Our Suffering, a Buddhist take on many things and engaging reality; psychological hygiene is an endpoint, here, too. The convergence has led me all the way back to Ira Progoff and his ‘At a Journal Workshop – Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke Creative Ability.’ I opened this book this morning. We’ll see what happens.
Images – a sunny, snow winter’s day serves to light and sculpt wagon wheels at the McNaught homestead near Beaverlodge, Alberta.
Listening to – ‘Take California’ by the Propellerheads, The Beatles’ 2009 remastered take of ‘Across the Universe,’ U2’s ‘In a Little While,’ Katy Perry’s ‘Unconditionally (Johnson Somerset Remix), Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’ (The Country Road version) and The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be.’
Quote to Inspire / Consider – “Photographs may be more memorable than moving images, because they are a neat slice of time, not a flow. Each still photograph is a privileged moment turned into a slim object that one can keep and look at again.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’
2 thoughts on “To A Photograph”
That blue reminds me of the morning light in the Falkland Islands many years ago. So cold and bright it burnt your eyes.
Hey there, Jim:
Your reply has prodded a look at images from Britain’s war with Argentina. A couple of them hold the intense and bright blue of sky. And, the landscape does look to be a place that can be cold and challenging. I am struck in many photographs by the war’s residue, helmets littering grass, shell casings littering the grass where they fell and artillery left behind … we’re thirty-one years on and it looks like yesterday.
The blue within the photo is winter-sky blue … it might have been winter’s experience back then?
Thanks for looking in. Take care ….