Tuesday, April 22, 2014

happy dream

I feel like I’ve been awake all night editing pictures.

I wasn’t actually awake editing pictures. Nope. But I WAS dreaming that I was editing pictures all night. Good pictures. Some really awesome pictures.

These were pictures I had taken, and not self-portraits. These were pictures of other people, some I know and some I don’t. Some of the people were nude; some were clothed. Some pictures were of one person; some were of more than one. They were all people who had agreed to model for me.

Apparently, they liked what I do was a photographer, and wanted to help me, to be part of it. I like those kind of people. 

But, almost the whole time I knew I was dreaming. I knew those pictures didn’t exist, and those people didn’t really exist. I knew I was dreaming, but I didn’t want to wake up. All these different people, willingly modeling for me? Reality is so much more disappointing in that regard. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

email response

From time to time I post on craigslist an ad seeking people to model for me. I have a hard time finding models. People that I know tend to be busy, or just not interested. Or, in some cases, I think they make inaccurate assumptions about what I’m asking. So...I look for models on craigslist. It's led to a few actual photo shoots, but most of the responses end up leading nowhere. 

Part of my ad is always "Serious inquiries only." To me that means someone has considered the idea, it’s something they actually want to do, and maybe they’ll have some questions about it. What I’m hoping to avoid is a “oo, neat, that sounds fun” response or a response that fails to demonstrate any sense of seriousness and intelligence.

Well, sometime in the middle of last night I got a response that just said, "What are photos used for". (Note the lack of appropriate punctuation.)

I don't quite take that response as a serious inquiry. I was trying to decide whether to just ignore it, or to respond with a sort of sardonic attitude. The latter won out. I did, in fact, just send the following email.

What are photos used for?

Well, I’m not sure if this truly gets to the heart of your question, but… Different people take photos for different reasons. Some endeavor to capture moments they feel will be somehow significant: birthdays; family gatherings; sporting events; graduation. Or maybe simply to capture images which are appealing or unusual or entertaining: the Grand Canyon; a funny ad on a roadside sign; a sunset; a cute kitten. And there’s the sharing of such images with others who aren't present. Taking pictures might be a sort of aid to memory, though that’s likely more a result than a reason to take pictures. There are those for which photography becomes a sort of obsessive thing—people who are constantly taking “selfies” or who post on facebook their “outfit of the day”—in these cases, the self-photos may perhaps be simply a way of interacting with the world, or they may be indicative of some deeper need, some legitimate psychological issue. A more serious photographer may have documentarian or photojournalistic leanings. And then, of course there are artistic endeavors. 
I think my photography is in part a sort of social interaction. I’ve taken tons of pictures of myself, and that’s fine, but I’d much prefer to interact with others and capture pictures of other people. I’ve been giving some thought to what a model brings to the model/photographer relationship, and for me a model is more than simply a body to move around and put into various poses. I think I tend to respond to the attitude and personality and mood of a model. And I hope that I capture some of that in some small way with my photos.
Also I consider my photography in part to be an artistic endeavor. That, of course, opens up a whole debate about the nature and purpose of art, which has gone on for a long time and, I’m sure, will continue to do so. But I will say this about art: there’s something in us humans that drives us to create and express in a way that goes beyond the everyday, ordinary, functional tools we use in life.

So, as I said above, I don’t know that really speaks to the meaning of your question.  Perhaps you’re asking what are PHOTOS used for—photographs themselves, the physical end result of the photography process. Certainly they are physical manifestations of any of the motivations I mentioned above. But they themselves may be collected into albums or stored away in boxes, maybe framed and hung on walls or placed on mantelpieces or end tables.

Of course, what most people do these days is digital photography. And for most images captured this way, there may never be a physical, printed photograph. It’s all on the computer, or out there in the internet. That is what I do: I transfer photos from my camera to my computer, where I delete many of them and edit the better ones; eventually I post them on my blog or perhaps on facebook. I have occasionally printed copies of a photo, framed it, and given it to a friend as a gift. And I have some prints of photos hanging on the walls of my apartment. But mostly it all stays digital.

That does bring to mind another issue of significance, which is the ease of access we in the “digital world” have to images and music and information. It’s become so easy to create and access so much stuff—and we do create and access SO MUCH STUFF so easily—that I fear our ability to appreciate it has been diminished. We see so many images and hear so much music and are just flooded with information that we mostly just ignore. And it seems that much of what we don’t ignore we experience in a fairly shallow way; we don’t examine, we don’t analyze, we don’t critique. We don’t stop to figure out why we like or dislike something, and we may not even determine if we actually like or dislike something.

Well... That’s a whole other diatribe. And it doesn’t really answer your question.

Perhaps this answer of mine is a bit long-winded, considering your five-word question. But sometimes I have a lot to say. And I’m quite certain that somewhere in all of my ramblings above is the answer to your question.  

Mostly I’m just being a smart-ass there. But I did touch on something serious. In addition to being an artistic endeavor, I do think of my photography as a type of social interaction, an attempt to share something with the world. I don’t know that it’s very successful. I don’t think many people actually look at my photos.

Two people I recently asked to model for me had made the same assumption that I only do nudes. And that just says to me that those people haven’t actually looked at my photos. I suspect they are not the only ones who haven’t. That saddens me. I’m certain that assumption contributes to my lack of connection with, lack of closeness to, most people. And this is the overwhelming problem of my life.