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A Sense of Place

January 11, 2010

My aunt and I share the same birthday, so I always try to call her on the day.

She recently had a book of poetry published. The poems came to her in a “moment of clarity” and suddenly began to flow through her. She wrote them down, thought of self-publishing, but decided to try one mainstream publisher who quickly gobbled her up. I am thrilled for her.

But something from our conversation really hit home. It was that “moment of clarity.”

You see her moment happened when she was holding her granddaughter, and watching her grandson as he roamed and ran. It wasn’t as if she was sitting alone in a darkened room, meditating with flute music. She was in the midst of things, which is what made me stop and think.

They say we all have a “powerspot,” or a place that we subconsciously relate to. “They” being educated people like the college professor that explained the “powerspot” to me.

I agree with this. I have several. One happens to be the drivers seat of my car. Another is the seat of my bicycle. And my other “powerspots,” they vary, move around.

But when I land on one, my best work emerges. Always.

It is during those moments of pristine clarity when, I think, our true creative being emerges. We find the focus we need, we find the second layer of the project, or the third, fourth or fifth. And suddenly, your vision becomes as clear as your moment.

Currently, one of my “powerspots” is where my mom lives. I only get there once, maybe twice a year, but each time I’m there I always manage to find a moment of clarity. And when I do, I make pictures. I make these pictures for no reason other than to make them. I have to.

And what these particular pictures seem to do is give me a sense of place, of being, without really showing where I am. They are like fingerprints, inspired by nature, perhaps a return to my youth. I make them each and every time I go, and I’ve found them more and more interesting over time.

I feel an energy in these images, a respect. I’m not sure anyone else would feel it, or should feel it, but I’m curious about that.

I actually printed one of these, large, roughly 30×30 and it sits framed on my mom’s mantle, above the fireplace. It’s odd to see it, then look out the window and see the real object. There had to be something that alerted me to photographing this object, and then print and frame this object, and then have my mother hang it. There had to be an unknown force. At least it feels that way.

I think the key to these moments is not necessarily the work that is made directly from the experience, but rather the realization of what happened, that you had this moment, you could feel it, and in some ways experienced a creative breakthrough.

At first I thought these images were not really “mine,”, but now I think, perhaps they are “my” work. Maybe they are leaving tracks for me to follow. A warning? A suggestion?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. blackwatertown permalink
    January 11, 2010 7:36 pm

    I suppose the key is to be open to the moment, and then to have your tools (camera, pen & paper, whatever) handy to exploit the moment.

    • January 11, 2010 7:40 pm


      Yep, I agree. Gotta have camera in hand, or pen, or one of those net guns like they use in the movies.


  2. David Wissinger permalink
    January 11, 2010 8:15 pm

    I wish I had one of those net guns. So many missed opportunities.

    Last week I was in my favorite camera shop buying some film, and the guys who work there (I like to think of them as dealers) were trying to tempt me with the new Leica X1. Spontaneously I said, “I don’t need more cameras, I need more time to shoot with the ones I have”.

    Your post helped me refine my comment. What I need is more “powerspots”. They’re not mysterious; I know how to get them. The problem is that they don’t coincide with my daily (weekly, monthly)routine. My camera can sit for days collecting dust because I know I won’t be where I need to be to really use it.

    So, photo guru, how to bend the ordinary to include more extraordinary?

    • January 11, 2010 8:25 pm

      Those net guys are really useful. And cool looking.

      More on your comment later.

  3. January 11, 2010 10:19 pm

    I have a powerspot, it’s where I am right now, in fron of my computer. I read several blogs everyday and enjoy seeing what other people are doing and not doing. I search the web for photography, learning more about what I like and dislike. I look at my images and realize where and how I’m achieving my goal and where I’m missing the mark. Next stop is my other powerspot: anywhere I’m holding my camera to my eye, waiting for just the right moment to “click.”

    Thanks Dan for your insight and images that make me think about what I want to capture next!

    • January 12, 2010 1:01 am

      You’re lucky. In front of the computer can be tricky. I can’t do it. Too many distractions. I need quiet and time. Space is good too.

  4. Daniel Potter permalink
    January 12, 2010 9:26 am

    Love the pics!

    • January 12, 2010 6:47 pm

      Mr. Potter checking in on the blog. Nice to see you here. Hope your other three are doing well!

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