Sunday, November 25, 2007

time gone by

My apologies for not updating in the last month. In between illness, I have been creating, I promise. I am working on my 13th Medieval manuscript page and it's looking good. There is one more month left of this year, then 3 months until Houston's FotoFest 2008. I need 7 more pieces completed before then. That is my goal.

I've been compiling quotes from people about my work. I am digging deep into the archives, as there were some interesting things said to me over the years. I didn't save them all, unfortunately, and wish I had. I am wondering if I should add some negative quotes in there as well. A fellow photographer once told me I should abandon
the idea of photographing myself for while, and "do other things". His speech ended with, "and aren't you tired of photographing yourself anyway?"

I look at his advice in a couple of ways. Yes, I do wholeheartedly agree that no matter what kind of photographer you are, taking some time out to shoot something other than your main interest, can indeed help you expand your mind, help you brainstorm, increase awareness of what is around you, get you inspired by adding new experiences to our life, or even help clear your head that when you do go back to your "thing", you can start refreshed. Then there is a danger OF abandoning your "thing" all together. Having said that, that can also be progression. If you do go elsewhere, then perhaps that is meant to be.

However, his last question was what irked me. Am I tired of photographing myself? Well, no. I don't do it because I am vain. I don't do it simply because I can't think of anything else to shoot. I do it because I still have so much to explore, to say. I want to be known as the artist that used herself in her work. I'm thinking I am a lot like Lucas Samaras who was known for using himself in so many different ways, techniques, mediums, even. A quote taken by The Getty Museum says" The persistent use of himself as a subject has led one critic to remark that 'Samaras's almost obsessional self-observation extends past narcissism toward a physical understanding of himself.'" This is what I wish to achieve eventually and an emotional understanding as well.

In my opinion, it also takes a very different kind of energy to photograph oneself. There is the need to be able to pre-visualize your composition. I have to rely on what I call blind instinct, because once I am in front of the lens, I only have a vague idea of what the end result will look like. I generally try to get the idea of what I had in mind in the first few shots and then I vary and improvise as I go. Sometimes, the variations work out much better than the initial concept, but coming up with the concept is essential. Then there are other variables. Adding another model or two, or three in the mix makes things even more challenging. Setting them up in place, giving them clear instructions on what I want - which sometimes I can't really verbally explain, and then making sure the performance goes as planned without, again, seeing it until after the fact.

The digital age can somewhat help see the end result more immediately, so corrections can be made, but I still love the anticipation and the magic of developing the film and seeing just what I caught. I have had rolls of film where the camera would move and cut off key elements of the image. As frustrating as that can be, reshooting can sometimes enhance the initial concept too. On the other hand, I have had rolls of film come out with exactly what I intended, (even if I questioned it while shooting). Call me crazy, but the entire process of photographing myself, despite (or in spite) of the challenges is so rewarding and fulfilling to me.

So again, am I tired of photographing myself? Absolutely not. If that time does arrive, I will go and shoot other things that move me...then again, I think I would end up working in a different medium all together.

Ahh, that's another post for another time.