I haven’t written for a while. In fact, I haven’t really posted much new work, either.
2019 has been a little overwhelming so far. Between a computer crash, data loss, multiple family illnesses, a car accident, and a demanding job, I’ve had to make sacrifices and really prioritize how I spend my time. I’ve put most of my energy into healing and being present as a father and husband. I have continued to make new images fairly regularly but I haven’t found the time to process and share them.
A New Season
Anytime I’ve finished a major project I’ve found myself feeling both excited and directionless. It is exciting to see the culmination of months or years of hard work and focus. I enjoy the subsequent process of reflection. I also feel the pressure of the unknown. What’s next? How do I push further?
After finishing STUCCOLAND! I allowed myself the pleasure of working free from the self-imposed constraints of project continuity. It has been both freeing and overwhelming. I have a lot of images percolating. Many have potential but they currently feel like orphans. I don’t know how or where they fit with my body of work. It’s as though I can feel the weight of them on my hard drive. Nevertheless, I keep shooting.
Practicing What I Preach
As I’ve written previously, I believe in the power of inspiration. I don’t, however, believe in becoming dependent upon it. I believe in getting to work, regardless of whether inspiration is presently calling. I move forward, trusting that inspiration will catch up with me in the act of working. At the very least, perhaps a pattern will emerge in the work I am doing that will help give me some direction.
In the meantime, I’m content to just keep asking questions. Every click of the shutter is a proposed answer, often in the form of another, more nuanced question.
Despite the lack of continuity in this season, there have been a few new images that stand out to me. They strike the right balance for me to feel they are ready to share. While I can see vestiges of my past work bearing witness to the evolution of these new images, they also feel new and fresh.
The above image was a nice surprise to me. At a time that I was feeling particularly directionless, I met up with my friend and fellow photographer, Andres Gonzales one morning to shoot in Scottsdale, AZ. I showed up and got to work despite feeling insecure and empty of inspiration. After a couple of hours I had a few dozen images captured but nothing I was very excited about. Then, I came upon this scene and I knew immediately that my morning was not wasted.
This image could easily have found its way into STUCCOLAND! had I found it six months sooner. However, I’m glad I didn’t. The entire STUCCOLAND! series was composed in square format, a self-imposed constraint for the sake of series cohesion. Since I had decided the series was done (for now) it gave me the freedom to pursue other composition options. I’m very happy with this rectangular, vertical response to the subject.
And now for something completely different…
This image came at the start of a road trip to the Salton Sea. Pulling over to the side of the road at sunrise yielded this interesting scene before we had even made it out of Arizona. In some ways I had set myself against landscape photography, thinking I had moved on from it. Apparently not. It was a good exercise in listening to my instincts. It was also a good reminder to stay open, that exploration is not just about one destination.
Indeed, it would seem, I have a lot more to explore and respond to concerning the landscape. Before we got five miles farther up the road from the last image I found myself stopping again for this one.
My eyes could not believe the colors! Standing in front of this scene I immediately thought of Franco Fontana‘s colorful minimalist landscapes. The colors in his images, however, were often achieved by pushing the saturation in post-production. So, to stand here and behold these rich colors, in reality, was something spectacular. I actually pulled the orange back a little in post-production because it was so intense in the newly risen sun and I did not want to overpower the lovely green and purple hues in the distance.
Content In Tension
Although this group of images might seem aimless and random, that’s where I am right now. Rather than sit at home in a frustrated rut, I’m walking head-on into the uncertainty. I’m learning to be open and content, to just explore and keep asking questions. I’m learning, as I have many times before, to accept mistakes and failures as part of the art process. I’m learning to find joy in images that surprise me, even if I don’t know what to do with them just yet.
Thanks for looking with me.