Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I have been doing some thinking lately. I have been exploring some things. I'm nineteen. I'm a sophomore or something in college. I don't feel the need to stay in one place at one time. I want to travel, I want to change, I want to think, I want to look at every bit of art I can and I want to shoot everything in front of me.

Flickr has been a huge resource since I started uploading. It's formed a community of young photographers that I believe is the next generation of talent. I see so much talent around me. The internet is a truly baffling topic I think about every day. How is the internet forming communities of artists? How is the internet numbing and disenchanting the tangible side of photography? How has accessibility to text and visuals in every realm of photography positively/negatively affected photography? I'm interested in pursuing projects focused on tangibility. I want to produce work people can touch, open, check for errors with their own eyes.

At this age I can only speak for today because tomorrow could be a completely different emotion. But with all of this amazing work going on around me I can't even comprehend wanting to upload my own work to Flickr. This could certainly be the product of a "slump" in my photography. But I sit at my computer eager to find my acquaintances new work. I read blogs. I criticize and fall in love with images. Then I take that and run. I am producing work.

My sister told me that Sally Mann photographed all summer so that she could be in the darkroom all of winter. I imagine that is partly because of her second job as a mother but I think it's valid in many other ways. Showing that producing work for long periods of time and then doing post-process at another point can allow you to focus on one thing at a time. I will say that not everyone could work like that but I really address with that workflow. Now I understand that it makes a lot more sense for Sally Mann to do this than myself. But I admire her patience she has grown throughout using the large format camera and wet plate.

Here is something I think about. I look at photographers who are established. They have bodies of work spanning years. That is incredible. Why does it feel like a two month project is the longest time ever? Do I have no patience?

I'm curious in exploring what the internet has done and what it has made of photography for my age group.

I grew up on the internet. It's the fact of my generation. In high school I was in the darkroom making contact sheets. Then I slowly realized that it was easier to find the images I needed by scanning. Heck, I was going to scan in eventually anyways. So soon I was cutting out the hands on steps that make photography the art form that it is. As I went along I found myself not even being able to shoot more than two rolls without getting them to the lab to get on the internet. It became this perverse search for acceptance. It's very embarrassing to break that emotion down and type it out. I also think it is the same excitement that you get bringing your film off the spool. But I feel numb to something. I can't figure it out. I'm nineteen and so confused. I feel like photographers my age and younger are loosing experiences that made photography so intimate.

Look at any interview in a photographers studio. They will have one wall or more. This wall is a floor to ceiling shelf simply organizing their boxes and boxes of negatives/contact sheets/prints. That is an incredible thing to me. Where has that gone? Well, I know I'm young and have three folders and a box full of stuff and that will grow. But will it really be the same in the future? Am I having this much trouble realizing that inkjet printing is the future? Am I frustrated deep down because I haven't C-printed yet? Then you say, "Pete, all of those negatives those photographers have floor to ceiling, they are now catching up by hiring assistants to scan them." Well, damn it, that's a good point. But I'm talking about my generation of photographers and the ones after me. Are we all going to have V500's at home? Are imacons going to be more 'awesome' than the color darkroom? It's sounds like I'm just complaining about the fact that photography might not be like it has been for 200 years.

I'm interested in shooting for myself. Not for an audience. I'm afraid that soon I will be shooting more for the audience than myself. That's discomforting. I'm interested in exploring deeper into photography history. Jacque Henri Lartique shot for shits and grins from age seven. I also realized how much I was being influenced by what was being said on the internet. For instance, Amy Stein spoke about "contemporitis" on her blog way back when. Honestly, I think about that everytime I pass an old car. You know what? If I want to shoot a damn car I should shoot a damn car. I know she wasn't using that blog post to completely end photographs of cars. It's my fault I think of that blog post everytime I see an old car. But then I think deeper. Stephen Shore wasn't shooting old cars. Those were new cars to him. We are shooting old cars.

I respect Amy Stein and her work a lot. I would have moved to NYC just to scan her negatives. I completely understand post as a parody with a slight amount of seriousness in it. I just don't feel comfortable at this stage in my photography to be so influenced by such a comment. I should be shooting whatever is in front of me.


roygbv said...

Solid. Don't be afraid of missing out on something - there are more than enough people interested in traditional photography for it to stick around for quite a while longer.

I hate the slump. I hate feeling that Flickr is some kind of competition, and hate feeling inferior to the work of others. I usually work on technique when I get this way, and come back to the 'making art' side of things when I feel better.

A.Mart said...

I think you really said it all. Well put.

deshazo said...

The Pawn shops in Birmingham stopped selling film cameras.

P.S. I think about "Stephen Shore wasn't shooting old cars. Those were new cars to him. We are shooting old cars." this all the time.

Alexa Sullivant said...

I love this, and I have been having those exact same feelings, except for one thing.

I think less of people that shoot digital photography, which I really shouldn't, but I can't help it.

and I know what you mean by flickr. I always felt like I needed to aim higher so I could impress everyone on flickr. I try not to do that anymore.

ken craine said...

new cars look like bars of soap. i'll admit i shy away from old cars too, though.

nice blog, pete.