|THE GRAND DELUXE EXPRESS AT LAMY, 2007|
I am spending a lot of time going back through older photographs from about 2006 through 2009. I occasionally find something worthwhile, but all-in-all, I discover few that I deem to be worth printing from that era. When I go back to look at my work of the early nineties (when I was at the height of my film photography skills), and look through my boxes of prints, I do find images that I think are worthy of exhibiting.
I am realizing that there is a considerable gap in my work. That gap coincides with the fact that I pretty much quit serious still photography in the late nineties. From about 2000 through 2006 my creative energies were focused on video work, brewing beer, bicycling and on my career.
There was a gap of somewhere around seven or eight years in my photography. I did take photographs, but I did not practice my art. During that period of time my photographic skills atrophied much like the muscles of an athlete who quits training. I still had my talent, but my skills slowly became duller and duller. The images that I created throughout that time period did not have my old commitment behind them. I did not work on my photography, and it showed.
I bought a new digital camera in 2006. I still had not recommitted my self to still photography, but I did start testing my vision. Like an athelete recomencing a training plan, I started out slowly. My vision and my skills were rusty, and I had to learn the new technologies. I still had "my natural talents", but they could only carry me so far. Like my athelete, I did not yet have an aerobic base, and therefore I could not "run" very far before I became winded.
I sort of languished in a zone of non-commitment for a couple of years. I still did not have a training program, and I had not yet realized that I needed one. It took a couple of years for me to realize that I had to consciously direct my training program in photography. I realized that I needed to work hard and systematically at my art and my craft. I realized that if I were ever going to be able to call myself a master photographer that I would need to create a plan and to work diligently at that plan.
Some of these things I learned quickly, and others came over time. I could not have expressed this process two years ago. I can see it now as I look back, but I was not this clear as I was in the midst of the transition from "casual photographer" to "serious photographer".
My bottom line is that I must work at my art all the time. I have to show my work, and I have to be open to learning from others and from my experiences. I give myself projects as a means to compel me to work. In 2009 I started my "Spirit Tree Series". I worked on a regular basis on that project for a year. I pretty much finished that project and in 2010 I started working on "Arcata in Eureka". In 2011 I started "Eureka in Arcata" - I am still working some on all of those projects.
It is in having goals, and in having dedication to those goals where I realize success. It is in being out there photographing, working the images in post production, printing, and in sharing the prints that an artist hones their skills. This is where real progress happens.