The thing about printing your photos, is how it changes your perception of your own work, it changes your belief in the work itself. Knowing it’ll be seen by others, is breaking a barrier. Its willful exposure of ones self, in the hopes that I connect with an audience at my own level. Its nerve-wracking.
or, subjective writing on objective subjectivity, and the art of internal forgiveness and cognitive art™.
I hate long texts, they intimidate me, please press the Forgiven button here to skip to the end.
The proper way to be is to maintain a Practical Cognitive Response during adverse conditions. However, as I’m learning, objectively, about myself, I tend to naturally lean towards the impractical.
Impractical Cognitive Response is brought to you today by way of complex post traumatic stress disorder, intermittent self awareness and the lack thereof.
I have problems with processing behaviours of other people, specifically holding them to a standard of behavior, -which I believe, has mellowed over time, but for all intents and purposes, is impractical, as it has a tendency to get dinged frequently, causing cumulative internal negative cognitive response.
I have identified that I now have some expectations, something I believed I was immune to until recently. My expectations are, basically, as I’m still figuring them out with the professionals, based on a set of parameters which, I hate to admit it; manners & politeness. I hate it because I remember as a child, how that thinking and behavior was banged into me by others who weren’t practitioners of their beliefs. I hated the humiliation that came with that protocol training. I have vague memories of prefabricated buildings with eggshell blue walls and the burned underside of piano keys.
However, here I am, with these expectations, now as an adult. Those vague memories don’t make much sense but have something to do with early humiliation, loneliness, ostracization and arithmetic.
Im also learning about boundaries. Im learning how not just to have them, but how to internally justify them to myself, which is is fundamental stuff, the most basic sense of self and integrity, which I obviously didn’t have as a child. Learning these things is like going through puberty part deux. Some of us are born with these necessities instilled from the get-go, some of us spend our childhoods in survival mode, which lays waste to everything else of lesser importance, all of that shit comes back in adulthood and by that time, there are standard societal expectations of you, which are unbearable because you are still doing remedial studies that you missed out on earlier.
With age, the brain hardens, and the learning isn’t easy, and it comes with radical change, and the broaching of safety zones; I have to feel safe to make any moves.
These terms help. Clinical language about one’s self, and what that self is, from a semi outside perspective: audience of one- myself. Otherwise known as objectivity, but that word I reserve for others, or art, or critical thinking; things I actually like. That’s not to say that I don’t like myself, I do, mostly, for reasons I’ll get to later, or maybe never. Maybe I’ll keep that stuff to myself and be happy with it, or just not discuss it for other reasons I don’t want to consider now, because I have something more pressing to do.
My method of communicating with myself is like negotiation. The closest thinking I can think of, in literary terms, is that of Samuel Beckett, or Louis Ferdinand Celine, though these are merely similarities, and not necessarily the minutiae of my cognizance.
Negotiation, because in order for me to get a thing out, I feel like I have to substantiate it, reinforce it, and I do that by a mixture of anecdote, example, and literary fact. I use this as foundation building material, but ultimately, I think, this looks like hedonistic digression. Maybe it is, but I like to think of it as cognitive art™, so I embrace it.
Again, audience of one.
I record my therapy sessions. I have been using these recordings as fodder for learning new audio editing programs, learning how to make podcasts and learning how to formulate dialogue for radio and the short span of attention syndrome. I say umm and ahh a lot. So much so, that I can now visually identify them in a wave file. I am 90% correct when I don’t listen to the audio and make cuts. Thankfully these are non-destructive programs..
There is value in the pause. Gaps in dialogue that are filled with the whirring cogs of thought and structure. They give me clarity upon listening, which shows me both my internal process and an external struggle. Objectively, they present a sense of genuineness, subjectively, I know what they are; shuffling paragraphs and chapters of explanations and foundational texts into position like an psychological air traffic controller, shifting pieces to fit within the allotted timeframe that the space of therapy provides.
I think thats enough for now, I’m actually satisfied I was able to get this out, insofar as out can be.
Ok so I’m in conversation with a friend and he mentions something about Leica lenses and trending prices of one versus the other, and then this just comes out of me like a projectile vom moment. It’s so good I’m blogging it. Slightly modified for context and clarity, sort of.
35 cron has always been THE lens to have with Leica cameras. It’s like a right of passage lens. It has nothing to do with the quality of optics or what people do with the lens, but it has this mythical status of achievement.
First you go from digital to film, and get into the film scene, and then you get a few fixed lens rangefinders and claw your way up through that lineage from cheap clean Konica’s to Yashica’s, Agfa’s, Olympus’s etc, and finally find that sweet Canonet, and lust for a QL17 GIII, and realize that it’s actually usable, and really produces some hot-shit pictures on your favorite film. Some people will go on to medium format beaters, and modular systems, Lomo, specialty, low financial impact cameras and into that camera obscurity rabbit hole.
Somewhere along the way you make the connection between that Canon/Nikon rebel and this new film thing your into, and start thinking about cameras that have lenses, and rangefinders and the Russian Fed/Voigtlander Bessa/Konica Hexar/bashed up Zeiss Ikon inevitably steps in and makes you a rangefinder photographer. Then its one, two, or a few used Screw mount Canon/Fed/Voigtlander lenses, and you’re always striving for that mountain peak of a Leica lens, and in the middle of all that comes a choice Zeiss ZM lens, something that puts you a little closer to that mountain peak.
One paycheck, after a christmas bonus or something, you can fill in the gap between your savings and that figure that sits in the back of your head, the one that you can deal with as a credit card debt, and that’s the day you can start getting serious about all those watched items in your My eBay, or forum classifieds, looking for that perfect Leica Camera deal. Whatever it is, maybe an M4, M2, M3 or even an M6. Your new bling Leica with your choice Zeiss, Voigtlander or Konica lens.
But in the end all you really want is that fucking 35 ‘cron.
I also live and shoot in Seattle and have done for 12 years. Seattle is possibly one of the most photographer friendly cities outside of NYC. It is also one of the best places I’ve worked for the most incredible light which lasts for 5 months of the year, and is peaking July to October.
Seattleites are pretty reserved and have become used to photographers, when I first started here there was about 3 or 4 regular downtown street photographers and two more who were both mail delivery people. By about 2010 there was about 15 regulars and now I don’t know.
My behavior on the street is that I walk to my spots with my gear on full view, and I’ll typically scan the scene for a few minutes and then as things appear I will shoot. I’ve recently been doing a lot more video work which involves a tripod and two lenses. I’ve had 2 people this summer stop and ask what I’m doing.
I basically go into a scene with an intent and respectful command, and I will just start working like there was nobody there at all. I’m an exceptionally shy person who has to bring up my reserves of confidence to actually do this at all, and it is even harder when someone stops to ask, but I can do that now and I do it very well. I made my introductions with beat cops, and explained what Im doing by making a half page flyer and handing it out after an introduction, along with my ID. Now they know that I’m there doing my thing, and if I ever get grief from anyone they already have a little background on me upfront.
Very very rarely will someone get huffy about having their picture taken (and usually people get upset if they think they have been singled out) and if so Ill stop, if Im wearing sunglasses, Ill take them off make eye contact and offer to shake their hand and explain that Im an artist and invite them to see what I’m doing. I’ll offer them a business card, a nice high quality card that says, yes I’m serious about this work.
I believe that if I’m going to ‘use’ people as my characters models whatever, then they have a right to know what I’m doing and invite them to be involved with viewing the work. I offer them cards most take them and I very very rarely hear from anyone afterwards, however, I do make a big deal about them going to the sites and looking at the work, to educate them on my ‘vision’ and what I’m trying to achieve.
Basically if you treat everyone that you are shooting, like they are gods, and that you wouldnt, or couldnt, be there, to do what you do, if it wasn’t for them, and you tell them that, then they will have a radically different attitude towards you next time. And it gets passed on to their friends also.
I always give my name first, if there’s a particularly warm vibe at the end of a conversation then you ask their name and offer to shake hands, and the next time they see you, you will get a nice smile or an amazing photograph.
At the end of the day nobody wants to feel as though they are being abused or exploited, and ultimately we as street photographers are exploiting them because they are there. But our job is to be emissaries and educators for our art.
I love and respect all of the people I photograph on the streets. I see you, and I see you in the fragmented moments when you are off guard, unaware, and existing in the space between consciousness and biology.
To my heroes, my street loves; my respect, always.
Imagine yourself as a cinematographer, tasked with the job of making iconic scenes with your camera.
The producer is watching you closely, because you are the one who realizes the dream. You are under pressure to make the world wow to your brilliance.
You have to be conscious in the moment, conscious behind the camera, aware and awake to make opportunities for yourself and exploit them further.
Take your time, instead of making one image make 5 or 7. Move around, look at the place you are in, think dimensionally.
Watch the elements as they move, snap the moments as they occur, add your own control factors, manage the scene without interfering in it.
Know your lens, and know what the image will look like you’ve taken it.
Be conscious in the viewfinder, even if it isn’t at your eye.
Shoot to complement the thoughts in your mind, not the other way around.
I’ve lived in Seattle since November 25th 2004, and in that time I have seen some slow changes, lost touch with a lot of people who moved on, disappeared left town etc. It’s really not until 2013 that the physical changes happened in the city that I could start to think I was living in a dynamic place.
I came to the US with an expectations of grandeur.
I was really surprised when I got to New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and DC and was hit in the face with the fact that these were aging cities, and the sense that the people living there, really didn’t have much actual control or say over anything that went on, because democracy got in the way. Id assumed the US was bright shiny and new.
As a European, I had always grown up with places that were maintained and there was a real sense of local pride and everyone was involved in it.
Over the years and traveling around, I’ve seen enough of it to tell me that this country is definitely a continent in decline. A place strangled by conservative values, and disregard for everything except money.
The US is definitely not a place I want to grow old in, and yet, I don’t know where else there is now that hasn’t adopted the same capitalistic values, and with that the utterly destructive nature of that which is held in high regard: individualism.
In sorry to say that it’s only now, 25 years into my career, that I am becoming aware of Ernst Haas. The publicly available repertoire of the man’s photography is immense. His philosophies of remaining independent and never adhering to a dedicated style are self evident.
A quote from the Ernst Haas Estate website affirms to me, now 25 years on, that my personal belief and instinct were correct all along;
“Still, I don’t want to declare there are no highways of fruitful directions. In learning there are. Follow them, use them and forget them. Don’t park. Highways will get you there, but I tell you, don’t ever try to arrive. Arrival is the death of inspiration. Beware of direct inspiration. It leads too quickly to repititions of what inspired you. Beware of too much taste as it leads to sterility. Refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.”
Be aware of forward inspiration, but reverse-engineer everything, think backwards and look for the defining characteristics and recurring foundations in everything. Everything else is just dressing.
“…the act of thinking thoroughly through a scene and preempting a moment to capture it, comes with experience. The experience shows when is the right moment to take the shot. Because the shot is a legacy of that decision…”