As the present year comes to a close, and the new one looms, many feel it’s an appropriate time to take stock. While some are putting together their “Best Of Year” lists, I also like to review, itemizing any bad habits that may have evolved or devolved over the past year, and think about any course corrections I might wish to consider.
Just a word about what I mean by “bad habits”. Just like those who make up their “best of year” lists will review their images from the entire year, so do I. What I look for during these reviews are overall tendencies and trends. For instance, I ask myself questions like these. “Did my work become static from shooting on the same height on the tripod too many times?” That’s an easy trap to fall into, and sometimes one can only be conscious of such issues by getting a wider view.
Observing the years cumulative work as a whole can also provide the artist with insight as to the development / metamorphosis of personal style. Personal style is extremely important to some and insignificant to others. My feeling is that it’s important to know ones tendencies in a big-picture way, if only because it might facilitate clear thinking about the path forward.
Looking at my own years effort in its entirety, my work seems to be vertical heavy, neglecting horizontals (surprise, surprise). True abstractions were few, and in some locations, I feel I could have worked tighter than I actually did. And, most disturbing to me; I didn’t use the flash once. Oops.
In the coming year, I feel that I want to concentrate a little less on the grand landscape. I want to spend a lot more of my time looking for abstraction and detail; to be less “location” oriented. As photographers we sometimes have tendency to run up to the gnarliest, the most amazing, the visually astounding thing we can find and make our images. Now there’s nothing wrong with that in any way, as humans we are infused with natural curiosity, and to be clear, the capturing of a moment in time is somewhat of a documentary act in and of itself. But as photographers descend on the landscape in ever increasing numbers these outstanding features of the landscape are photographed over and over, to the point that these “features of the landscape” have become iconic and are instantly recognizable. What with the world “shrinking” I’m looking to make changes artistically, albeit with an eye to the ever-changing photo markets. In so many words, I want fewer “recognizable” images in the New Year.
An artist is able to direct the eye in such a way as to make the mundane beautiful; to show the “familiar” to viewers in ways they could not have previously imagined. And so that is my goal for the coming year; to see the “ordinary”. Easy to type, and even easier to say, the relative ease possibly obscuring the difficulties inherent in such a statement. To be honest, I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions, as they are usually forgotten in the bustle of everyday life. However, I firmly believe that “course corrections” for an artist have to be considered and planned, and the start of a New Year certainly feels like an appropriate time to do so.
So be happy, prosperous and resolute in the New Year!