Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New Years Resolution 2015 (yeah I know it is June)

Well, this really isn’t a ‘manifesto’ although it actually is a manifesto. I am a little confused as to the degree a manifesto must go—as if manifestos are a matter of degree. When does opinion cross that line? So, even though I don’t think of this as a manifesto I probably should. 

I see it as simply something that I seldom do—a new year’s resolution that I wrote back in December or maybe January. I came across it on a hard drive this morning and was personally curious as to how well I have been able to keep it as we rapidly approach the mid point of the year. I think I have done fairly well, but I really need to keep it out where I see it more often—I blame my many failures on advanced age and short term memory loss… here it is…

For the last several years I have erroneously thought that it was somehow important to express to others my personal opinions on photography, my photographic philosophies so to speak. I tried to convince myself that there was some altruistic reasoning behind that like maybe helping others advance their own work or maybe just helping them to see photography in an interesting new light—something beyond a craft.

I say erroneously because I was the only person dissatisfied with their work—they weren’t. They were quite happy. I shouldn’t say that I was dissatisfied. It was just that I thought they were capable of doing considerably better if they only thought about photography a little differently. What I did not understand is that it required more than me seeing the prospect of greater potential; it required that they see that prospect and desire the results of perusing that prospect. They were not yet to that point and I, obviously, was not capable of conveying the necessity in a way that they were willing to accept. And then again, maybe is it not really necessary to get to that point as long as the photographer gets satisfaction from the work they are producing. Maybe not every body needs from photography what I need from photography.

That leads me to the conclusion that as I have always known--there was considerable selfishness behind these efforts. I had hoped to find friends that had similar convictions regarding photography that I could connect with, mutually learn from. Whereas I was unable to find such friends I stupidly tried to create them as I create my own little world with photographs. That is a losing proposition on both sides.

I have concluded that I am in a cubbyhole all my own, and of my own making, and that no one else really cares how I see photography, nor should they. I have to admit that I have lost to craft and in doing so have lost much too much of the craft.

As a result my own photography has stagnated, withered, dried up, gotten terribly dull and I am depressed about that. For every forward movement there are two steps backwards. Sure, occasionally I get a somewhat decent photograph but it is the same photograph that I did last week, last year, five years ago. I am tired of repeating semi-successes. I need it to be more than that and my present path is definitely not going there.

I have decided that my ‘campaign’ is beyond ludicrous and terribly frustrating so I have done something that I almost never do—tendered a New Year’s Resolution. Here it is as simply as I can put it.

During the year of 2015, I am going to be considerably less involved in what other photographers do and devote my energies to my own photography.

As much as I believe in my philosophies; as needy as I am for a ‘support group’, this year I am going to drop all efforts. I will continue to answer questions but I will make no effort to teach or instruct. Everything that I need is in my extensive library. I will always be willing to share what little I know but only to those that make specific requests beyond "do you like this"; beyond "how can I improve this". I will, as I do on-line, require a statement of intent; then if I feel that I can, I will tell the photographer how well I feel the photograph is successful or unsuccessful. No more critiquing either in person or on-line.

Turning sows ears into silk purses is a difficult thing to do so this is going to be a difficult resolution for me to keep. But I do need to keep it so I am going to print it out and post it to the wall above my desk in the studio as a constant reminder.

Yes, I am crawling back into wherever it was I came from. As Millay wrote, "I shall be gone to what I understand, And happier than I ever was before... I shall find the sullen rocks and skies, Unchanged from what they were when I was young."


Addendum: Later, on my computer at home, I found a piece where I expounded on this concept. If I have the nerve, I may post it when I get home. I'll read it through to see how much trouble I might be in first. Needless to say, I write a lot that is not intended to be shared, such as these two pieces. I concluded that resolutions are not resolutions if they are kept secret.

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