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I wonder, if one hundred visual artists were questioned why they create, how many different answers I would hear. I also wonder how many similar answers would emerge. Often, there are two somewhat disparate aspects to why we create. One is for self-satisfaction, personal fulfillment, or financial reward. The second is one that we, as photographers, are often reluctant to admit: so that others will see and appreciate what we do.
Eileen's headshot is by Athena Photography
We can all appreciate the beloved Ansel Adams. He was one of the greats. His story is inspiring, fascinating and enduring. The man worked as a custodian in Yosemite National Park in order to live in the beauty he so much appreciated and desired to record. He seemed a harmonious blend of romantic artist and master technician. He devoted his life to the pursuit of what he loved. As a darkroom junkie myself, the first time I saw an Ansel print in person, printed by his own hands, I admit that a tear, (yes, a tear) fell down my face. The sheer craftsmanship of his prints was surprisingly moving. I am not here to dispute the fact that Ansel Adams was one of America’s greatest and seminal landscape photographers. I am here, however, to challenge you to find another one. After Ansel, who is your favorite photographer?
In the classroom, I encourage my students to become familiar with the way they work. Understanding our working methods and process makes it easier to navigate the ups and downs of that process. For instance, under what conditions do you work best? Do you work on multiple projects at once, or do you complete one at a time? When are you most motivated? When are you least motivated or inspired? How do you deal with hitting walls or roadblocks? Do you like to experiment, or do you prefer full control? Recognizing these repeating conditions—and how we react to them—makes us more efficient and adept at maneuvering the creative working process.
Headshot by Athena Photography.
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.