Monday, April 24, 2006

In the WY snow

In the WY snow
Originally uploaded by cudave60.
I’m spending the week in Jackson Hole (JAC) for you aeroport code freaks, helping teach a photographic workshop organized by the great sports photographer Rich Clarkson. Alone among this kind of teaching experience in photography, Rich has brought a half dozen very talented photographers, and Myself, to work in a team-teaching environment. This means we share not only time with the students (most of whom are between 35 and 50) but with each other, and it really enriches the teaching experience. I always feel I get way more out of these than my students get from me (hmmm, doesn’t really sound like a selling point, does it). But as photography is, the words of Yogi Berra, 90% mental and the other half is physical, it is important for photographers to constantly keep trying to recharge their batteries and be able to keep looking at what may be a prosaic or ordinary situation, but come away from it with a picture that remains fresh and worth looking at.

Tonight I will show my pictures to the group, the closest thing to doing your second semester, Senior year Oral exam before they give you a degree. Many photographers decided on this line of work as a way to speak without having to open your mouth: visual expression inside of a photographic frame. For me, the connect between making the pictures, and showing or speaking about them afterwards is sometimes a difficult step. If you don’t GET the picture when you look at it, well, no amount of words will fix that. Pictures that have to be explained are destined to remain off of the top ten list. But I think there is a kind of sharing feelings about HOW pictures were made, and the motivations which led you to be at THIS place, at THIS moment, with THIS camera, and able to take THIS picture, which is very valuable. The stories behind the story are sometimes as much fun, or filled with fear and loathing, in ways which add to the narrative. I have a new little digital camera, smaller than even a pack of Indonesian flavored cigarettes, the Panasonic Lx-1, which now takes away, finally, my excuse of not always having a camera. It fits in a shirt pocket, an inside jacket pocket, and yes, all excuses are gone. While I always admired the Cartier-Bresson dictum about never being without a camera (life is NOT, let us be reminded, always on a schedule), I too often have made the decision not to carry a camera. Rather like the umbrella syndrome, however (if you carry it then you won’t need it, leave it behind and it will surely pour with rain), I have operated under the wishful assumption that Nothing Will Happen if I leave the camera at home. But let’s face it. Unless you are alone in an absolutely deserted wilderness, something will Always happen. Life happens, and that’s what photography is good at capturing. While waiting in the cold this morning, I whipped out the camera, half to take my mind off the nippy air, and half to see if there was a picture there. Well, in the ongoing battle to try and prove to myself that no, I don’t Really Look like Albert Einstein (do I?) I included myself in the reflection. Nothing that will hang on the wall, but a little note in my ongoing visual notebook of my life. f/3.5, and be there!


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