civilized ku # 4056 ~ listening and evolving

wine rack / morning sun ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK (click to embiggen)

Many a "serious" picture maker - that is one who wishes to create a body of work with a unified theme and look - spends a significant amount of time pondering, fretting, agonizing and contemplating regarding what to picture and how to picture it. Or as Jörg M. Colberg wrote in a recent essay:

"As a photographer, you will probably have to address the problem ideas/intent vs. form/content simultaneously from both ends. This is difficult, because it’s much easier to have an idea and then produce something around it than to be able to have that idea evolve, based on what is coming out of the pictures."

While I certainly agree with Colberg regarding the necessity for a "serious" picture maker to to address the problem ideas/intent vs. form/content, I would disagree with his notion that it’s much easier to have an idea and then produce something around it than to be able to have that idea evolve, based on what is coming out of the pictures. To wit ...

A quick visit to my WORK page reveals that I have what I consider to be 18 differing bodies of work. That is, each body of work has its own unique-to-itself referent. The only traits they all have in common - PINHOLE excepted - are my adherence to straight picture making, the square format and my "standard" processing (vignette and black frame).

But, here's the thing about those separate bodies of work - not one of them began with a concept (idea/intent). The only concept involved was an intent to picture the quotidian nature of the world around me. That is to write, my picture making - any referent was fair game - was driven by attention to visual considerations. The bodies of work all began and evolved from listening to what was coming out of my pictures.

Over time, I identified, by looking at and listening to my pictures, referent material which pricked my eye and sensibilities. That is, a number of my pictures, which pictured very dfferent referents, suggested to me that pursuing, by intent, those varied referents could produce interesting but separate bodies of work. Or to state it another way, I did not intially intend to make a body of work which pictured, for example, decaying food or women in public or random arrangements of stuff in my kitchen sink.

Nor did I, at first, picture those varied referents in the exact manner (form) that has evolved - been refined - from those first picturing endeavors. Nor did I understand - as I do now - why it was that I was attracted to picturing (my intent) those specific referents.

In other words, I learned something about myself by listening to what was - and still is - coming out of my pictures. And, it is my belief that by listening and learning I have been able to make better pictures (re: content/form) which, by intent, express my ideas (concept) about those things which prick my eye and sensibilities.