As I continue to work diligently on my new darkroom, I have had many days and hours to think.
I realized a few things today that I wanted to share with my readers and fellow photographers.
First, as I spend more time in the middle of nature building my darkroom, I realized how busy the world really is.
When I am there, even though I am working very long days doing manual labor, my mind has free time to think about what is really important to me. I am not checking emails, or fiddling with my phone or involved in busywork and my work has meaning.
I am grateful for this time because it has allowed me to think and to realize how busy the modern world is and what that means to me.
I think it is very easy to become lost in our over busy and over stimulated world today and hopefully this article will make you pause and think about your life for a moment.
One of the major reasons for building my home and darkroom off the grid and in the middle of nature is because of my desire to slow down, focus on the things that really matter to me, and to do things that are important. I realize that time is the most precious commodity that any human being possesses.
Second, as I thought more deeply about the past, it made me realize some key points that I think may apply to many of you as well.
As photographers, we live in very unique times. All of the "technical" things have already been figure out by many others that came before us and yet, many seem to still be fascinated by the technology. I find that very odd, and I really don't have an expiation for it, just the realization that I think it is happening. Maybe the glory days of photography have come and gone and now we are just consumers and imitators.
We live in a world that is literally bombarded with images from the moment we wake unit we go to sleep. I also feel like many people no longer value the physical print and I further suspect that many people are desensitized to the underlying meanings and motivations that professional photographers work so hard to share and communicate. When so many people have such high-quality equipment and the lines between reality and fantasy land no longer exist, it makes me wonder what we have done and what the future may be for photography. Or, is the definition of photography just evolving as it has over time?
The last thought that I want to share with you today involves distraction and how I think it can negatively hold a photographer back from reaching their full potential. Distraction is an evasive variable that has many faces. From an equipment perspective, there are no practical limitations anymore. A professional photographer can work with film, or work completely digital, or even work with the two in a hybrid approach. There is no end to the number of equipment options we have today, no matter what your chosen format may be. I know without a doubt that I have been distracted by options and it has been something that has been on my mind for a few years now.
I was recently watching a documentary about the life of Edward Steichen and I learned that he was an accomplished painter in addition to being a photographer. He ultimately decided to literally burn his complete inventory of paintings and fully dedicate himself to photography. It is my understanding that he was much more successful in monetary terms as a painter, but he put that aside and followed his heart. I also think about Clyde Butcher who has a similar story. He decided to focus on black and white photography and he burned all of his color prints, just like Steichen burned his paintings. I think these men knew what I know and what I am trying to express to you in this article. They understood the value of focusing and committing to one thing. As the old saying goes, "it is impossible to serve two masters".
I end this article with a heavy heart. As I continue the process of building my new darkroom, I feel this is a very special time in my personal and creative life, maybe like the times that Edward Steichen and Clyde Butcher experienced. I know in my gut that I need to simplify my photography and eliminate even more distractions, but I haven't fully made up my mind on how I plan to do that yet. I can only hope that I have the courage and possesses the wisdom to make a decision and stick with it. I feel like now is the perfect time for me to make those decisions, so I will write again once I know more.
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