After a year off, I have decided to move my blog into my website, you can find it here:
I picked up a couple of film cameras recently. One got picked up through Derk and one got picked up off the shelf. I’m at a frustrating place in my photographic process. I am not enjoying what come easily any more. Or to put it another way, I’m not growing right now.
My origional though was that the old-newness of film and mechanical cameras with fine lenses would awaken my inner Bresson/Nachtway/McCurry but, of course, it doesn’t work like that. The problems with this idea start of with the fact that these three men represent three very differnt styles of documentary photography and so rolling them all into one idea is problimatic from the start, but the real root problem is in the fact that I’m trying to be them. I’m always trying to be them. I think a lot of us are. And If it’s not HBC for you, then it’s Tolstoy or Rory Stewart or Steve Jobs, what ever.
I look at these photographers and I can tell you why they are sucsesful. I can tell you why their compositions are dynamic, I can tell you what lenses, cameras, films, subjects; I can even tell you about their interactive styles with thier subjects what I can’t tell you about is why they made those disions.
I’ve met Steve McCurry, I have heard James Nactway speak–I know a woman who went to hight school with the guy for crying out laud–I have studied their bios, listened to their interviews, studied their work. And I can tell you what they have to say about those disisions, what their rational was (James likes to be close to his subjects and so employs a 16-35mm and a 50mm most of the time he uses TriX400 BW film and shoots Canon–Steve shoots Nikon and doesn’t shoot with anything wider than a 28mm and likes things closer to the 50-85 range. He shoots 100e Ektachrome.) I can tell you that Steve traveled to Asia with his Nikon FM after breaking up with his fiance after college and never moved home. I can tell you that James has always been the quiet broody guy and comfortable being alone. Ok so what ever, I can tell you all of that, but what I mean is what drew them to make those desisions, you and I can’t answer that.
What drew them to those things was Spiritual. Something about those images and their way of working–the way the focal length created a certain type of relationship between the subject and the background, the way the film rendered the tones, the way the lens gave them an oportunity to be intiment with their subject or gave them room to be alone in the same room–resonated with in soul.
Instead of asking what resonates in my soul, I have looked at the products of their experiences and tried to replicate their products. And so my images look–to me–about as souless as the experience sounds.
When I look at something like Place de le Concorde by Edgar Degas I see something close. The structure in the abstract, the emotions that are real but etherial. This feels right, feel true to my understanding of life.
The confidence that rests in the composition of this is astounding.
The same is true of this portrait by Munch
So this is why I have been quiet all summer. This is why I have hardly posted to the blog, why I haven’t really shot much at all. I have been reinventing my idea of successful photography.
I can’t tell you what it is yet and I’m not going to. I can feel this vapor of truth in my soul and instead of trying define it, I’m going to trust it and see what happens. I let someone else define if for me later.
From my last trip to Uganda this last spring. Here’s the caption that WOULD have run with it this series.
Amber Schrock attends to the bullet wound of a Karamojong man in the town of Kaabong, Uganda. Amber, and her husband Terrill, are working to develop a written language for the nearby Ik people–while living in Kaabong among primarily Karamojong tribespeople. Amber, an E.R. nurse, chose to serve the local population by opening up a clinic in a 12 foot by 12 foot shed beside their house.
The men on my Dad’s side of the family got together in Utah, outside of Park City to fly fish and catch up. I tried to take portraits of them with my Fuji GS645 which I thought I had recently repaired. However it turned out that the rangefinder fell out of alignment so I had to use my 5dM2 as a rangefinder. During the shoot, the shutter on the Fuji failed as well, so we’ll see how it turns out after I develop the film. These are the digital tests I took of my Dad, Uncles, and Cousins.
Scott is our Ideas Guy. I’m not even sure what his official titles is for Wycliffe U.S. He is PR, Nue Media, and Journalist all rolled into one (yes there are contradictions there.) In his other life he blogs here, and when he’s not doing all of that he’s the VP of Marketing for the Wycliffe Foundation.
Scott was my travel companion and co-storyteller in Uganda and Tanzania this April, he was a fantastic teammate. This us him tweeting from from a small shack of a restrant in Kaabong, Uganda is probably more his speed.
Dustin and I traveled to the Congo together in March of 08. Perhaps my favorite part about our friendship is how totally and completely opposite we are. He is decided, I’m instinctive. He’s quiet, I’m loud. You can read more about his time in Congo here
As it turns out, one of the hardest things in the world for me to do is take photographs of Erica that we both like. This is in my top three I think.
I’m starting a new portrait project, Nick was kind enough to be my first subject. I’m aiming to get a portrait a day, but we’ll see. Click on the photo for more on Nick.
Portrait of a man seeking to be honest.