Talented yogis have been said to watch as a large "whale of inspiration" crests the ocean of consciousness only to let the inspiration go merrily on its way. Watching. Constantly witnessing. Obviously I am not one of those kinds of people.
The journey through creative photographic expressions has taken so many paths over the course of the past eighteen months. Have I needled a creative vein? I can't seem to let any of it go. Every idea that pops to mind needs to be explored. Every nudge leads to new opportunities to learn and create. Every moment is filled with the promise of some great unfulfilled artistic demand.
Taking a moment to sort some of this out, I realize several things about myself.
My mind can think up a great many things. It can plot and plan and worry the details of the smallest thought. Its from this place that the past forty years of photography was experienced from. Tools. Process. Cameras. Lenses. Chemistry. The books of St. Ansel. Platinum. Palladium. Ultra Large Format. Testing. Proving. Defending. Attacking. Seeking. Wishing. Desiring. To be good. To be acknowledged.
What of the heart?
In my family system, the heart was something that barely existed. To be ignored. To be stilled. It was threatening. It was emotional. It was unreliable. Yes. That is the word. Unreliable.
Yet my time on this small insignificant planet has begun to reveal a deeper truth about the heart. The heart can be still and quite. From that stillness and quietness something else is revealed. The heart has its own way of being. The heart notices and knows about things that the mind doesn't even know exists. The heart has a different expression of reality.
Could it be that "good" artists know how to listen to and live in a broader awareness of their heart? As Homer Simpson would say - "DOH!!!"
Eighteen months ago I started down a path away from traditional cameras, film, and chemical processes. The transition to digital has been anxiety producing. I was stepping into uncharted waters. I knew everything about the old approach and nearly nothing about the new.
Since my money earning career is with computers and software development I should not have had as much anxiety as I did. With a little more confidence I would have understood that I was probably decades of knowledge ahead of people untrained in the field of computer science. The applications, tools, and processes readily adapted to my traditional image making approaches. A properly exposed image was still very much a properly exposed image. Dodging was still dodging. Burning was still burning. Composition and light are still composition and light. Printing was still printing. Viewing a finished work was still viewing a finished work.
What has radically changed is the time between idea, execution, and finished product. This one simple reason is how the heart got engaged, opened up, and appears to now be having a Field Day of it all.
Where am I now? Well, I'm thrilled that I enjoy exploring texture layers. This is something I used to do back in the day. The tools are different, and level of control I now have is astonishing. The mind loves that part. The heart enjoys looking at a work, responding, and giving back to the thinking mind new ways to explore. Mind. Thought. Heart. Response. Directed feeling. Mind. Thought. Reinterpretation. Heart. Re-response. All in a very short span of time.
In this way, texture layers have gone far beyond anything I ever considered and certainly out distances many of the photographic expressions a person typically sees. Its from this place that I can witness the challenges this imposes on some photographic "insiders" and practitioners. "Outsiders" and "lay" viewers seem to be less troubled with my new work. In fact, some of my biggest cheerleaders come from artists and professionals who know little or nothing about photography.
That's for today. Where will the heart lead tomorrow? Wherever it leads there is a quiet confidence that I can sort it all out and find a way to express what needs to be expressed.