Friday, February 25, 2011

all head, all heart

Nothing attracts Aces like a King.

There is something about photography that makes even the rawest of amateurs believe that they are indeed artists from the moment they bust out their new cameras from their boxes. The relative accessibility of digital technology probably plays a factor, but for the most part I think a general lack of respect for the arts is what is driving this phenomenon.

Most people claim to value and even respect art. However, this usually only applies to refined and culturally accepted final works of art. There is no love for the process. There is no respect for the foundation that was painfully and carefully built. Technique doesn't happen overnight. You can get lucky a few times, but consistency is the true mark of a talented artist. Having said that, some of the artists who have produced the greatest works of art were wildly inconsistent.

I also believe there used to be a certain amount of luck or chance involved with artists who were discovered before the various information revolutions. I am certain that for every famous artist there were at least a dozen of the same caliber who went about their lives and to their deaths without any significant recognition or acknowledgement. However, today as the age of internet unfolds, any savvy person can potentially share their work instantly with billions around the world. Unfortunately, we are all being exposed to a lot more crap as well. 

More and more I feel that photography at its core is about art. While technique serves its purpose, without a heavy helping of heart and soul, I find that images are dull and lifeless. A muddled mind and a cold heart can only produce dead images. When the heart and mind are in alignment, beautiful and amazing things happen.

While I do think it is somewhat cowardly to hide behind an anonymous computer and rip into people, I find the Bitter Wedding Photographer to be pretty funny. I wish there was a local version of her persona, because there are plenty of photographers who deserve to be laughed at in the Washington, DC area. To be fair, I think there are lots of funny photographers in all markets and regions. 

Monday, February 21, 2011


Life is and has always been about following an official or unspoken set of priorities.

You inevitably commit your time and resources to the things that you deem most valuable and important. When I was younger, money was more important than my time. But I am starting to realize that there is no substitute for time, especially lost time. There is no amount of money that can bring that back. Time is money, and you have to put your time and money where your mouth is. What is on a man's heart may be unspoken, but his actions speak volumes. And quite frankly, you really only need to read a few chapters to figure the rest out. A really good writer could get the job done in a few sentences or a paragraph.

In your 20s and 30s, usually that focus is on getting an education or pursuing a career. Passions, hobbies, and family responsibilities sometimes merge, but for the most part it is difficult to truly multi-task and "chase two rabbits." You can keep an eye on the other rabbit, but it is probably wise to start digging into one hole.

That is as far as my analysis (admittedly limited) goes, because I just hit my 30s. We shall see what new thoughts and ideas another decade of life will bring.

A huge game-changer in all of this is of course the introduction of a child. Time becomes an even scarcer commodity. At the same time, I think each and every parent has the option to choose just how complicated they will make the ordeal of raising their children. There is something to be said about standing on the shoulders of giants, but most parents have too much advice to give on theories that are far from verifiable and questionable at worst. The variables that exist are staggering and truly impossible to fully account for. Raising a child is a far too personal and unique experience to rely solely on the opinions of others, especially hyper active "Super-Moms." I don't know what does the trick for them, but a conversation with an eager Super-Mom is certainly one of my Kryptonites. Yawn. Wake me up when it's over. It is hard for me to feign interest in the latest baby gadgets and theories.

Sound advice... if you don't want your kid to play in the NFL.

I don't want my life to be all about my son. I do love the kid more than I thought I could ever possibly love a baby. I want to create a loving home for him and give him all the support he needs and wants, but I will not give up on my pursuits. I will not stop living "my life." Some people might say they are living for their children, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. And quite frankly, sometimes I think it is a cop-out. First and foremost, I need to pursue my passions and dreams to the fullest. If not, what will I tell my son one day? Follow your dreams, but just until you have your own kids? If it gets too hard at that point, give up and just console yourself by putting "parent" on your resume? If you are lazy, can you expect your child not to be? Would that be fair? I am sure there will be elements of hypocrisy in the traits and values I try to instill in my son, but I would at least like to try to be the smallest hypocrite I can possibly be.

The other harmful dynamic that I can understand people are susceptible to is the temptation to channel all your professional and personal frustrations into unrealistic expectations for your child. Yes, sometimes people hit their 1 outers, but for the most part it isn't fair to expect your kid to be a Rhodes Scholar who goes on to play in the NFL and walks the runways in Paris, Milan, and Tokyo on the side if you were a C student, in looks and in school (gym and core classes). Your child might one day grow up to be the President of the United States, but even that would require some hefty startup money on your part.

I don't claim to have the answers. I just kind of want to enjoy the ride. And if there are no answers at the end of it, that's fine by me too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Infrared Goggles

I've posted about infrared photography before, but I'm going to do it again. I just love the effect. The contrast between light and dark presents the opportunity to create dreamy pictures.

On a bright sunny day with lots of "greenery" present, there is nothing I love more than popping a wide lens on my camera and shooting a scene with an infrared body. The greens wind up a creamy white in the final image. Some will claim that you can simulate any look with post processing. While I believe it is technically possible, I generally try to limit my time spent processing images. And quite frankly, I am not convinced the average Photoshop user can truly create infrared images that look as good as the real thing. As for film, I do believe that post processing can mimic the grain and overall look of film down to a level to a point where it would be indistinguishable from the real thing. Sorry purists, film is destined to go down the lonely path of records, 8 tracks, and cassette tapes, etc.

This last image is not an infrared one, but Sepia is another favorite color tone of mine. Technically, Sepia falls under the category of Black & White. In an ideal world, I think I would shoot 95% of my images in Black & White. And plus, I could simultaneously pay homage to Michael Jackson. Because as we all know, the natural progression from "it doesn't matter if you're black or white" is to embracing Black & White.

One morning I woke up and discovered I was 31 years old.

I feel restless.

The oldest person in the world recently passed away. Born in 1896, she was 114 years old.

I wonder how this individual was able to process and adapt to all the changes in our world. Commercial production of automobiles only started in 1891. The Wright Brothers hadn't even flown their first airplane yet. The world may have very well been flat, because so many fundamental aspects of globalization, like travel and communication, were moving along at a crawl. At least the wit of Mark Twain was readily available for entertainment. Good writing is one thing that will always stand the test of time.

We usually think of the past in terms of what is missing. It's painted as a dark era that is lacking the modern comforts and technological advances of today. Can you believe people lived without this? What would you do without that?

However, if one really thinks about it, there must be things that we are missing. Things that we have lost along the way.