The innocent love of creating

I’ve been struggling since I decided to re-start my visual exploration. It is the same struggle I felt when I started in college, the same one that made me quit 15 years ago. I come from a working class family. We work for a living. Everything has a purpose and that purpose is focused on making a living. It’s a cycle that I can’t seem to break free of.

I fell in love with photography as a Boy Scout working on my Photography merit badge. I still remember standing in that darkroom and watching an image appear on the blank sheet of paper. It was magic – a magic that I could do. And that sense of wonder never went away. I lived for the moment when I put the exposed paper into the developer and watched an image appear. Every one of the thousands of times I did that I loved it. I miss that moment now, but there are other moments that the digital world provides that are almost as powerful.

I love exploring and finding that hidden image. Just walking around, camera in hand, looking, seeking and eventually finding. Or that image that I grabbed as I was walking by. I wasn’t really looking, but I had a camera in my hand when I saw something significant, I grabbed it and moved on. Seldom do I realize at that moment that what I caught was great, but later, when I’m going through my shots and I see it – wow, I love that moment.

I love the moments of my life that I can capture and hang on a wall. Not just the picture – but the memory of that moment. It is there forever. The smells, the sounds, my feelings. I remember that moment more clearly than any other moment in my life.

And I hope my work has some of the same impact on others. I can’t speak for them, but I hope it does. I’ve won a few awards and enough comments that I believe it does.

But I keep getting caught up in the why. The how will I make a living at this. I need to pay for it – I need it to have a purpose that relates to the material needs of  life. Yeah, I read the quotes of how art lifts and inspires. How it is what pulls us up out of our earth-bound realm and allows us to see greater possibilities. And I believe them. But I have a hard time maintaining that for the long term.

Like when I’m involved in something spiritual, when my mind and heart are touched by that greater realm and I’m filled with that peace and joy and hope. Then I walk into a door, eager to share it. The reality smacks me in the face. My kids are yelling, the dog is barking, I fall over something left on the floor and it’s gone. And there’s just a big hole where a moment before there was an all encompassing light and I feel worse for the loss.

I keep losing the spiritual why to the noise of the earthly material why. At heart I’m overtly practical and art isn’t practical. It rises above practical and I find myself trying to make it practical. And every time I fall into that pit I don’t like it anymore.

Here are a couple of quotes from photographer Paul Caponigro, son of John Paul Caponigro. I’ve been spending a lot of time on John Paul Caponigro’s site because I’m impressed by his grasp of art, his approach to it, his peace with it. Something I seek but am having a hard time finding. These quotes talk about maintaining that innocence, about ‘Not Doing’ so you can step away from the process and be free to create. It really hit home with what I’ve been struggling with.

The full conversation was first published in the May/June, 1995 issue of View Camera magazine:

Castaneda and Don Juan have a perfectly wonderful dialog together on the business of ‘not doing’ as opposed to ‘doing.’ Don Juan tells Castaneda that he must learn to ‘not do.’ Castaneda says, how do I not do? Life is doing. Yes, that’s precisely the problem. Everything that you do is based on something you already know. It has already been handed to you. Everybody is doing according to a formula and that’s what keeps it all in place. This is all too obvious. Not doing means that you’re aware that that process exists and you step away from it in order to see clearly. The ability to be free, from that process, even though you are a part of it, enables you to ‘see.’ Then it’s not difficult at all. Then the essence becomes available.

Photography attracted me before I ever knew that it was a part of a structured world. I saw a camera which my grandmother wielded. I thought it was fascinating. I didn’t know about famous artists and museums and magazines. I innocently met that process. And I excitedly engaged it to the best of my ability. Later, because my excitement was so strong, I realized that this could be a medium through which I could work. Then I had to meet the whole world of photography; manufacturers, materials, hype, galleries, dealers, critics, etc. Somehow I did not lose sight of that initial innocence. I realized that unless I could stay free, unidentified, unless I could keep my personality from going crazy with the adulation or the lack of it I was not going to maintain that innocence. I realized that the innocence was the important state that called forth the inspiration into the process.

Huntington Witherill – I loved this

John Paul Caponigro posted these videos on his site. I watched them and loved them. Beautiful work and inspiring words.

Here’s some key quotes I pulled as I watched them:

Photographs are ‘stylized interpretations of reality’. Every photograph ‘is a lie’.

He is ‘constantly looking and very occasionally actually seeing’.

Weston called that ‘The Flame of Recognition.’

Part 1:

Part 2:

Check out Huntington Witherill’s web site for more great stuff.

Boise Skyline Pano from Camel Back

Boise Skyline from Saddleback - Pano

My first kind of successful pano. This is a blend of 3 images shot of downtown Boise.
– Threw away the first one and tried again. This turned out a bit better. I cleaned up the blend, reblended the sky with the city line and removed the link from Flickr and loaded it directly into the blog so it would show the full size image when you enlarge it. Better. Still some room to improve.

Revised ambition

Any successful plan requires periodic review and adjustment. This includes my plan to post an image a day.

I’m going to continue to shoot daily, as I did before, but I’m only going to post the best image – or images – weekly.

What I realized last week is how visually limited my life is. I get up, leave the house, drive to work, wander around the building, drive home and hang around the house. There are images available there, and I’m going to find them, but at some point I will exhaust that environment.

Now, the obvious solution is to broaden the environment. And I will, as I am able. I do still have to make a living and I’m afraid it isn’t currently a terribly visual living.

The other is is quality. I’m planning on posting these images to the world and want to make sure that I have images worth posting. I was pushing it on the garbage can – though I have to admit I like elements of it. I’m not completely unhappy with it. But at this rate, I’d be posting some questionable stuff.

Enough of that stuff.

I do have an image to share. As an exercise in blending and to give my son something fun, I generated this image of Ariusz Pudzianowski with my son’s facial features. He thought it was pretty cool. I hope Ariusz doesn’t mind.

Just a few years and a lot of sweat…

Day 1

I’ve spent the last months planning, learning, ignoring.  All those things I do so well to keep me from actually doing.
I’ve stuffed a lot of stuff in my head. Now I need to do something with it.

Chase Jarvis – not sure why but that name has been intriging me recently. I’ve seen it pop up in blogs here and there. I finally decided to check him out.
I went to his site at  Excellent work. I was impressed. I checked out his blog at I liked his attitude. I watched a couple of videos of him speaking and liked him more. It didn’t seem to  be just a marketing effort – he felt like a guy who loved the craft and loved sharing it.  And works HARD at it. I can respect this guy.

Create – Share – Sustain

Read this, watch the talk – I needed it and appreciate the message.

Do it – Share it – do what ever it takes to support it, then do it again.

Do it – Share it… the two things I need to do. Break out of my avoidance and my shyness.

I made some choices

  • Create a forum where I can publish and share. I don’t have enough wall space or enough money to print and hang everything I need to shoot. And the exposure is poor. But I do have the internet. This Blog – Flickr – Facebook. Publishing opportunities that cost little more than time and and provide ultimate exposure. I’ve set it up so I can quickly drop images onto all three sites.  Share it – ready to go
  • Shoot more. I need to shoot every day, need to be looking all the time. So I’m going to carry a camera everywhere. I’m going to shoot and publish every day. I expect to put out some poor stuff on occasion, but quantity is the important thing here, not quality. Hopefully I’ll get a little quality too. Mostly I just need to shoot. And shoot.  Today’s post is the first of my dailies.
  • Shoot projects. I’m going to set projects to explore and expand certain techniques or subjects.  My first one – to take a daily picture out my office window – a passage of time kind of thing.  Nothing amazing, but something I always thought would be fun to do.

The first of my Dailies:


I originally threw this in without any comment. The more I look at it the more I like it. The lines are intriquing and the textures is full of detail – just the way I like it.

It’s also my first flickr image to get a comment. Kind of cool.


This one, I like it, but not near as strong as the b&w. The lighting gives it some interest.

Art is poetry when…

Pulled from Permission to Suck,  an exploration on creativity.

Art is poetry when “poetry” is an emotionally rewarded aesthetic banter with our senses. Reduce craft to a one button push, the poetry now includes a lackluster effort to engage – similar to a street passing of two indifferent relations. There is no strength in laziness.

Genius lies in understanding that art involves the consumer’s world view, the context in which it is consumed, the collaborative nature of the work and the commitment of the artist. With his erased de Kooning, Rauschenberg proves that great art works don’t necessarily involve the tools of great skill. Our democratized digital renaissance proves similar; great tools don’t necessarily produce works of great art.