Autumn: an appropriate time to be thinking and writing about cycles. The garden is fully formed, yielding all that it has to offer. The mornings are cooler with the smell of crisp change perched on the air, and once again, my thoughts turn to another year. Another year of productivity, highs, lows, little celebrations and small defeats. Each year brings better understanding of the way I work and the work that I do now, potential uncertainty about the work to come, and acceptance of the work that's been done. And the crux here is that it is all connected.
Each year at this time, I teach a class called Contemporary Photographic Directions. I examine the trends, the technology, the superstars, the emerging stars, the veterans. I attempt to put my finger on the pulse of change—what threads have continued? What new elements are rising to the surface? What feels different about this year's work?
This time always prompts me to examine my own work of the past year and pose those same questions. In our days of speed, efficiency and getting it done, how often do we look back? How often do the images that have been made get reconsidered? Only when we re-vamp the website? Looking back on the past year's work can be informative and potentially enlightening. Where have you grown? Where were you challenged? Where did you triumph? What ideas are fueling the work? From where do these ideas come? Where stylistically are you leaning? Where do you want to go?
Take some time in the next month to consider a look back. Challenge yourself to decipher a shift or a feeling or a thread throughout your work. If you do this every year, imagine the wide open view you could achieve of your own chronological photographic path. This awareness of where you've been, and where you stand right now, can make interesting fuel for where you may be going.
All Images ©EileenRafferty. 2011
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