Being in a lifelong love affair with making images seems to be like any other long-term relationship: sometimes the passion runs high, and other times you take each other for granted. You drift a little part and reunite over and over, learning and growing through the years together. But through it all you keep the faith that you are in it for the long haul, even when the going is rough.
Sometimes you cannot keep your hands or your mind off the object of your affection. Oh! To hold the camera! To click the shutter! At those times, you have unlimited enthusiasm to look at everything – no matter how humble and commonplace – through the lens so you can really “see” it for the first time. But other times, inspiration is aloof and absent. The relationship feels stale and you worry that the love is gone. A nagging voice in your head questions whether there is anything left to photograph that hasn’t already been done by others a million different ways, and whether you’re any good at it anyway. (That voice is not your friend, by the way. And it doesn’t really know what it’s talking about).
I recently read that a true artist knows they cannot just wait to feel inspired in order to create. They accept that they have to work at it, that to create is to commit over and over to pouring out your heart and soul even when the critic and cynic in your head are sneering. Even when you’re not sure that you have anything to “say” in your art that anyone else would care about. Because you and your art are meant to be together even though sometimes it won’t be particularly exciting and requires a lot of work to look past each other’s flaws.
I think that, just as with people, you have to meet inspiration half-way. Take the first step once in a while by doing something really considerate and sweet. Then inspiration will occasionally surprise you with flowers or, even better, a refreshed desire to go out and see the world anew.
So, this morning, when I was preparing to head out to the Corcoran Gallery downtown for a field trip, when I saw my camera, I didn’t wait around for inspiration to ask me to spend the day together. I picked up the camera and hung the strap around my shoulder as a show of good faith. Instead of debating the pros and cons of carrying the extra weight, risking bumping it into something on the Metro, blah blah blah, I just did it. And it paid off: Inspiration decided to meet up with me for a romantic afternoon. We held hands and giggled. We got absorbed in everything around us, from soaring sculptures to humble tiles at the Metro station. We remembered we are meant to be together and are in it for better or worse, for richer or poorer. That we don't have to wait for a special occasion to be blissfully happy. Here are some of the things we saw. (You can also see these images on our main gallery site here).
Live, Love, Learn,