A Remarkable Challenge for 2012
What does opening a bottle of wine, a photography vlog, my favorite food blog, and the word remarkable have in common?
Quite a bit, actually.
Let’s start with wine (always a good idea, regardless of the context). I love wine. I love finding new wines I’ve not tried before and, slowly, I am working on getting rid of my snobbishness when it comes to boxed wines. Okay, I’m not working too hard and that and I sleep fine at night believing that boxed wines, and their regular drinkers, are inferior.
But I digress.
I have, however, been willing to try new packaging such as screw top caps. I understand the problem with cork taint and how that’s virtually unheard of with a screw top. But what I miss is the ritual of uncorking a bottle of wine. The slow draw of a blade around the foil, the insertion of the opener’s screw and the soft *plop* sound as the cork comes out. I’m sure it’s all in my head but I want to truly believe that the wine will taste better because it’s been opened with a sense of reverence and ritual.
What prompted this thought was listening to a fantastic video podcast called the Art of Photography by Ted Forbes (if you’ve not had a chance to watch/listen, make sure you head over to his site and catch a couple of episodes!). In the latest episode – as of this blog post – is number 79, Remarkable. It turns out that he and I share similar roots, having grown up in the Episcopal church and used to attending Christmas Eve services that were full of ritual. And then, years later, returning to the church for another Christmas Eve and finding that the ritual has been diminished. I don’t know if it’s a result of time passing, the economy, or just new attitudes and a preference for the low-key, but the ritual is not there like it once was.
So, it was listening to Ted’s vlog that triggered my thoughts about ritual and what it means to me to have it missing from my day to day life. I’m not talking about ritual strictly in a spiritual or liturgical sense, just the willingness in my life to accept the informal as normal and I think this has certainly had an impact on my photography. I dunno, maybe making a big production out of shooting comes with its own risks and issues such as it just becomes too much effort to drag everything out to take a few shots. But, I know that keeping it so informal has removed a lot of the enjoyment in the act of photography. And, for me, that’s the basis of Ted’s challenge to be remarkable.
I mean, really, if the act of creating the image loses value in our mind, how can we truly place value on the resulting image?
For those of you who listen to Polarizing Images (thank you!), you know that the last episode we did was about stagnation and that I’ve been struggling with this lately. ALso, I’ve been trying to figure out now only how to get past it but also what could be the underlying cause of it. It was right as I was coming around to asking the greater “why” question that I watched Ted’s episode. And then that puzzle piece fell into place. You all know that I rail against photography becoming a commodity and how such a low opinion of the final image is a huge detriment to the art of photography but it’s been eye-opening to realize that, possibly, that’s the exact same way I’ve been approaching the act of photography.
So there you have it, through listening to people whose intelligence and insight far exceed my own, I think I’ve been able to figure out my stagnation, in part, may be due to a lack of ritual in taking photographs.
Oh, yeah, and a shout-out to my favorite food blogger Linda over at Salty Seattle. This week’s post is about change and she even uses the word stagnation. Perhaps it’s because it’s the new year and many of us are looking forlornly at missed opportunities in 2011 or leaps of faith not taken. Maybe it’s not that morose and, instead, an eager and hopeful look toward 2012. As I read Linda’s post, I was happy to read that I am not the only one who struggles with hitting that artistic block. But she also recognizes something that is also just coming to light for me. In her words, “change is brewing.” And maybe that’s stagnation is really all about – the calm before the new storm. I sure as hell hope so.
For me to overcome the inertia and bring about that change that’s brewing, I am going to start reintroducing some ritual into my shooting and take that leap of faith.
Wanna know what I hope to get out of this? Well, for that I am going to go back and paraphrase Ted: It is our responsibility to be remarkable. So that’s my next thing to figure out – what can/will I do in 2012 that will be remarkable and bring about change.
Thanks, Linda, for your dedication to your crafts and to you, Ted, for your willingness and courage to challenge fellow photographers to be remarkable. I owe you each a drink!