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Who Am I?

May 7, 2009

Wow, talk about a sobering reality.

In short, I’m not sure I know what I’m doing anymore. Commercially yes, I know, but personally, with my work, I’m really teetering on the brink of I don’t know what.

I’m looking at starting this new project. In fact I’m here, right now, starting the damn thing, and I realized I REALLY don’t know what I’m doing.

This was never the case before. Ever. But is sure is now.

I can do anything I want, in any fashion, or at least what I can afford to do, and like I do with my students I presented myself with the question, “Okay, now what, what are you going to do?” And, I don’t know.

I’m not even sure what format I’m going to shoot. 35? 6×6? 6×9? Both? All three?

This might seem trivial but it isn’t when you consider I must have a consistent theme and style to what I’m about to produce. I spoke to another photographer yesterday who cautioned me about this, and explained that his only project of mixed formats was never published. All the rest, single format, were published.

I’m sure it was because it was more difficult to figure the style, to place the work under one description. Doesn’t mean he, or I, shouldn’t do this, but I understand the idea of complicating matters.

I would love nothing more than to do the entire thing with Leica and 35mm, and I might. But the 6×6 is also really nice, and I have been using a lot lately. But, each format creates VERY different pictures, and I’m not sure at the moment which is best.

Again, I knwo this sounds like it isn’t a big deal, but I find when I, or most others, do two things at once, we do them half as well. And, the type of picture I make with a Leica is FAR different than with a 6×6 camera. So, it makes it difficult to put both bodies of work together. Then, one body is typically stronger than the other, and here is where things get tricky.

This isn’t a small story, or one that I can do in a short period of time. We are probably talking several years to even come close, but that is what I want. That is what documentary work is all about. It ain’t a quick fix.

I think part of why I’m having this problem is from doing much of my work for other people, people who need specific things in a specific style, and consequently you ofter work in a style that may or may not be your own. That’s commercial photography for most people. After a while, it’s more difficult to quickly fall back into the “your” style, and this is where I find myself.

Over the past few days, as I begin this project, I find myself so out of sync. I fumble with my gear because it isn’t comfortable in my hand. I’m thinking too much and not reacting, and that never works.

I feel like a marathon runner who hasn’t trained in several years.

I’ll figure it out, eventually, but it sure does feel odd. Years ago I was crystal clear. I never doubted anything. I had one choice and I just stuck to it. Perhaps it is time to try that again?

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