I’m in Moab Utah getting ready to lead the 5 day Spring In Arches and Canyonlands workshop. Moab has always been of one of my favorite places since the first time I visited in 2003 on a mountain biking trip. Though photography was not my primary focus, I still wanted to capture the landscape in a way that expressed the deep emotional connections I felt. I shot many memorable images of our trip, but fell short in conveying anything else beyond what snapshots tell us. But that experience and frustration had a profound effect on me, and in hindsight was the start of my journey to discover how I might bring meaning and emotion to my images, one I’m still very much exploring today.
One of the questions I get a lot is, “How long did it take you to make that image?” And it’s usually asked with a certain frame of reference in mind, based I think on the idea that an image is made on a particular outing or shoot. Anywhere from five to thirty minutes is generally understood to be the norm, whereas days or even years are somewhat disorienting for many. The image above was made in about 5 minutes, but up until a few years ago, I would have never made such an image. Perhaps because I wouldn’t have been attracted to the subject matter; the idea of “photographing art” didn’t appeal to me, I had a limited understanding of art in general, or simply because I just wasn’t mature enough creatively and mentally.
The point is that we bring our way of seeing and thinking about the world to our photography, our way of expressing ourselves. And so it’s not a matter of technical excellence, or competing with others, or having great light. That helps for sure. But it’s really about experiencing as much as possible, having confidence in our selves, and being patient in our creativity. And it’s also about overcoming the fear of stepping out of the familiar and comfortable.
” Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is ‘to fit together’ and we all do this every day.” – Corita Kent
Are you limiting yourself to photographing those things that have appeal to you simply because it feels natural? Or are you being patient enough with yourself to see if there’s room to grow?