13 November 2009

discovering why i take pictures

I have a wonderful husband. Sometimes I think he knows me better than I know myself. (And sometimes he doesn't have a clue, but for that I can't blame him in the least...I confuse myself sometimes.)

He came in just now, after I wrote that first sentence. :)

Anyways, lately, I've been frustrated with where I am in my, I guess I can say, photographic journey. Or something like that. Basically, I've been taking my camera out, and don't see things to photograph. I feel really blank and uninspired. Does it have something to do with trying to sell my art? Probably. But the observation my insightful husband offered was this: My pictures are a kind of story of my life, in that I don't usually go out to take pictures, but I take my camera with me, and photograph what I see while I'm doing life. Most of my great photos have been taken while I was there doing something else.

Deciding to drive to the park and shoot for a while is too scientific. Going to the park on a picnic with my husband or family, though, is a fun experience, and I think that frees me to be creative. I can't suddenly decide at any given moment do something passionate. So I've realized that my creative motivation comes from very nonvisual things, like love and fun and eating and belonging. I think these things bring out a spirit of wonder.
And at the very least, when I'm not focused on photographing anything, not requiring myself to take epic photos, I am freer to really, truly see what's around me. That's the key.

So, the photos I'll leave you with are some of my favorites, and they're a great example of what I'm talking about. They're all closeup shots of rusting, decaying metal things. Beauty in atrophy, is what I call them (when I have to name them). I took them on my grandparents' farm, while I was on a walk with my little sister. She kept pestering me to keep going, but I just HAD to keep taking these! And I had just happened to grab my camera as we meandered out the door. :)

a winter garden

cinnamon vortex

see the world

fire dancer


daisyinnovember said...

Hey Nikki, this is Renae. I find I'm almost the opposite of you - when I'm alone and have no agenda other than finding cool things to shoot (as if I'm hunting - interesting terminology! :), I feel less inhibited. It's probably an extension of playing by myself on our family's acerage for hours at a time. If I'm around a ton of people - like on campus, or at family gatherings - I get very shy and don't want to present myself as as much of a photo nerd as I can be. But I really relate to the feelings of stagnation you describe that are attached to the notion of selling pictures. I've been uploading stuff on Flickr and despair of producing something really eye-popping and high-quality, something that will get comments and attention. THAT sucks. If I have to rely on a thumbnail or smaller sized view of my pictures to grab people's attention, it just doesn't seem to work. Good pictures usually are eye-grabbing, but don't always have to be. A lot of times I try to capture a mood instead a particular aesthetic (sometimes because my camera can't do much more).

Anyway, I think you're gifted and have a fantastic imagination, as evidenced by the titles on those last photos. I enjoy reading your writing as well. Don't worry, you'll find your rhythm! I guess what helps me is trying to take pictures for myself and not for other people - that's when I get out of sorts.

Amie McCracken said...

Wow, I read this post at a very good time for me. I was feeling very down with the whole 'selling my art' thing and you have really opened up some doors for me. Thanks.