Today marks the first anniversary of my first post on this blog. More than 200 posts later, I find myself in a reflective mood. Here are a few random (and eerily interrelated) observations which may be of use to fellow photographers, but more generally to anyone engaged in an artsy pursuit.
The act of posting things on a regular basis gives a self-imposed discipline to your work. The world won’t come crashing down if you miss a self-imposed deadline, but missing it on a blog does provide a sense of public accountability. If you’re like me (i.e. a bit OCD), it will goad you to do more.
It’s a pleasure sometimes to click your way backwards through posts and remember where you were and what you were doing at the time you took a particular shot. Memory is associative. The way you felt at a particular moment may not be obvious from your shots, but it is inextricably linked to those shots and you can retrieve that feeling, that state of mind or sense of place, simply by revisiting that association.
3. Stock Taking
Sometimes it seems as if you’re learning nothing new. Maybe you feel stuck. Maybe you feel your imaginative muscles have atrophied. Reviewing earlier work like a flip book is a good way of reassuring yourself that you have, in fact, progressed in your craft. When reflecting, you more backwards through your work; when stock taking, you move forward. An important part of stock taking is acknowledging the things you’ve learned and rewarding your progress with a pat on the back.
The process of selecting images to post on your blog habituates you to the process of culling your photos. These are your darlings and it’s so hard to kill them. Yet Faulker’s advice to writers holds just as true for photographers. When you blog, you temporarily assume the role of editor and this allows you to view your photographs with greater objectivity.
You photograph, so why should you write? And yet, the act of writing about your work forces you to articulate precisely what you were doing when you took a given shot and what it means (in the context of your larger body of work, in the context of your culture moment, the zeitgeist, the universe, whatever). Bringing your methods to consciousness affirms that they are real and not the traces of happy (and therefore unrepeatable) accidents.