In the expansive mist of morning, when my soul takes time and room to breathe and stretch, I gaze around my room and wonder what I might do with myself. My eyes light on the top shelf of a bookcase, where stands a handmade paper album. Pages of rough texture wait to absorb something well-constructed, like a bed of rice made to nestle a complicated curry. What poem or drawing or photograph would be worthy to lie in those lush furrows?Surely nothing as lowly as what I would create. Yet I long to put my time, my love, my hands to work, to make something. I want to slowly blend my life into some material. The satisfaction is exquisite. I felt it once, birthing and raising children. The medium responds, reacts, engages, resists. It is not a work of power; it is a work of love.
I have begun to notice an impatient annoyance building up in me when I look at photography sites. I am enamored of the images, but so often the captions leave me irritated. I do want to know what I’m looking at and where it was found. I don’t like the flavor of language that suggests violence. “I captured”, “I shot”, “I took”, “I caught”. Why not just say that you were there? It was there. You made a photograph of it at that place and in time. Doesn’t that sound more respectful somehow?It does to me.
I like art that shows that respect. An artist is generous with time, patient, slow, allowing something to unfold, gently. There is a generosity of presence in art. An artist gives herself – body, consciousness, energy, and love – into a relationship with her work and medium. That’s what feels so rich, pleasing and compelling in a well-made piece. Whatever it is. I am often so task-oriented that I don’t think of that. I was taught to be efficient, neat and accurate. In preparing a meal, for instance. When I began cooking for Steve, he’d ask me about supper, and I’d tell him the steps I planned to take and ask for his input on decisions. He’d respond with something like, “Just make it with love.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. I think I have a better idea now.
I have a whole day and a whole chicken ahead of me. I want to make something satisfying, not just in the end product, but in the relationship along the way. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Meanwhile, I’ll share these pictures from Horicon Marsh. I didn’t take them. I like to think I invited them, and they came willingly.
Gosh I’ve never thought of the photography terms that are in common parlance as being associated with violence.. I just use them because they are the words that are known to me, much as a golfer tees, drives and putts…which also don’t really make sense in relation to what is actually happening in the game of golf.
I don’t know.. Maybe it’s because I come from a country that doesn’t have guns as part of it’s culture in the same way that the USA does so I think of the words you’ve mentioned as being in relation to photography when I hear them and not to guns…
I think our culture is about power and competition in general; guns are only a part of that. There’s the power suit, the power car, the trophy wife, and a bunch of other stuff that feeds into that idea of domination. It’d be interesting to survey the language used by photographers, compare women to men, and photographers from different cultures. Just as a sociological experiment. Maybe it’s already been done…
Yes that would be interesting…get to work on it Scilla 🙂
Imagine the pure predatory joy of sitting at your blind for the time it takes for all elements in front of you to align into the harmony of what you see in your mind’s eye and with one quick movement of one finger you either have or you don’t something of what you want to show. Photography can be this as much as it can be scavenged wonders. Light moves. Living things move, scattering light even more. A camera catches that light, captures it in frozen stillness, does violence to the relentlessness of time.
Or not. And mostly not. A lot of what is passed off as serendipity is a labor of love at the computer as much as anything else. The world is there to see, but a photograph is a work of art. There is at the very least the medium of the camera between the raw experience of sight and the finished work. There are those artists that compose for the camera and those that use it to hunt, as well as those that only want to show just what happens to be there in front of them. When doling out respect, I give generously to those who want passionately to show something that is inside of them. Passion is that id-sex-violence stuff that deserves powerful language. When I am out with my camera, I am gleaning images, but I am also seeing in a very special way. Sometimes, when I am very lucky, out of the hundreds of clicks of the shutter I might make, I get an image that jumps off the screen the way I felt it when I clicked my camera at it. Now that is a catch. It isn’t something that was just there.
I find it hard to imagine “pure predatory joy”, but the way you write about it makes it easier.
oh dear. You and Steve need to play more hide & seek.
Hmmm. Not really our style.
oh well, just a thought. I see that you have plenty of other pure joys without worrying about the predatory ones.