As the year draws to a close here, I have been reflecting a bit on my own creative practices ( I don't need the end of a year for this, at the best of times, but hey let's use it as an excuse anyway). I am a bit embarassed to admit that I have spent less time in the darkroom at home this year than any other year in the last 15 or so. However I still am making images as prolifically as ever, it's just that the change in approach brought about by digital cameras means a different end result or use for these images is required. Shock horror perhaps even a different intention or maybe more focused attention is what is required?
When we were on our honeymoon in New Zealand a couple of years ago, why I made images with a camera was really driven home. A question that I still am struggling with. Why do I take/make images? What do I do with them all, who really benefits from these thousands of images? I realised at the time that particularly in an unfamiliar environment with little time to spare it was almost pointless trying to make god or meaningful images with any kind of idea behind them. I gave up pretty quickly trying to make anything that resembled art to me and just snapped away making what I hoped would be good/memorable pictures of the trip as a whole, and if I fluked a good one then so be it.
Well here I am 2 or 3 years later and things haven't changed that much, I am still making images albeit more digital than any other kind and I just wonder what am I supposed to do with. As an aside when I retired my Kodak DC 260 halfway through our recent world trip I had reached the 13,000 mark they are all carefully filed away on CD awaiting a reason to be pulled out and used.
The reason I'm thinking this way is that making images with a digital camera IS different to using an analog camera. Technical issues aside there is an underlying attitude that kind of devalues the image. The instant feedback provided by digital photography has taken away a lot of the mystery of the process. This loss of mystery equates perhaps to a loss of innocence or maybe a lowering of expectations of what we can achieve with our images. For example, I always set my camera to its highest possible resolution with the least amount of compression available to me - "just in case, I want to make a nice large print from the file". In 5 or so years of using a digital camera I have never once seriously bothered to make a print from them. So why do I maintain this just in case mentality? Why can't l let it all go and simply get used to the idea of making images for a computer screen?
Applications such as Director which are powerful story telling tools require you to have a firm understanding of the story you want to tell? (Director can turn still images into interactive images that move, based on a story of some sort.) Do I have story to tell? Particularly given the way I make digital images in a kind of Gary Winnogrand style- what would "that" look like photographed - kind of way? A self published book is one option, still awaiting exploration, and I am truly enjoying the galleries over at Flickr.com too. Ultimately I guess that so long as I continue to make images that are important to me then maybe someone will get some value from them?