Sunday, April 11, 2010

Daily Practice 101/365

Title: "A kindness of nothings"
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I have an aversion to talking about my photographic process, primarily because I want the images I make to be appreciated first and foremost for what they are, rather than for how they came to be. It's interesting that I feel that way about my photographic practice, when I'm usually quite happy to talk about how I've made an etching, or achieved an effect in a painting. I guess I just feel that photography is particularly burdened by questions from other photographers around what equipment was used, what film or post-processing tricks, what exposure settings etc. Some of this I can understand as being of interest, but the obsession with these questions seem to imply that the camera/film/software is what made the picture, and not the artist/photographer. I don't think too many photographers are making images to demonstrate the virtues of a particular set of equipment, or properties of film or processing software.

Yet I must admit that I have a love affair with film. I have a wonderful digital camera, and many of the daily practice images have been made with it. But one thing that almost never happens when using a digital camera is...some boo-boo or accident that produces an image far from what one expected. In comparison, film can almost be relied upon to be unpredictable (although careful processing etc can produce highly reproducible technical results). And that's important to me because my overall artistic process, regardless of medium, is to take the accidents in stride and allow them to dictate the further development of an image or series. Today I worked with some expired instant film and a somewhat wonky old, cheap polaroid camera. Sometimes with these film packs, the tab that you use to pull the film through the rollers fails to function properly - as it did today. So I would make an image, go to subdued light, open the camera back, grab the remaining part of the tab and coax the film out of the pack and through the processing rollers. The processing was uneven, there were inevitable light leaks, and these were quirks and characteristics that I accepted and happily worked with. This triptych sums up how I spend time in our back garden on a lovely spring day - I sit peacefully, feeling the slightly warming breeze on my face, alternating my gaze between the plants, and the sky.

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