Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pain and Other Fun Subjects

Here's something interesting:
1. Most people want to live interesting lives.
2. Most people want to avoid pain.
3. But those who avoid pain lead the most uninteresting lives.
4. And those who confront pain have the most interesting lives.

Or try this:
1. People hate conflict in their lives.
2. People go to the movies and wish their own lives were more like those on the screen.
3. But every good movie, from Harry Potter to Doctor Zhivago, has conflict.
4. People read stories and novels in order to escape their own dreary lives.
5. But every good story has conflict, from Cinderella to Lord of the Flies, from Jack and Jill to War and Peace.
6. People go to concerts and listen to music all day, wishing their boring lives were worth writing a song about.
7. But all good songs, from rap to the blues, are about conflict.

Why do people avoid the very things that make life worthwhile? Because humans are silly. So laugh. Comedy is about laughing at pain and conflict.

But what should you do after the laughter subsides? No, I'm not advocating that people go out of their way to create more conflict and pain - heck, there's already plenty to go around - but to avoid pain and conflict is folly.

What makes hemorrhoids, nasty relatives, and bad hair worth putting up with? Why, thank you for asking. It's more conflict and pain.

You're quite welcome.

So if you want to have a good time, get out there and find some worthy pain and conflict to confront. The battles will become the most interesting parts of your life. Resolving horrible conflicts and pushing through excruciating pain will become the most pleasurable and satisfying points in your otherwise pointless lives.

And don't tell me you can't find any to battle or I will hit you.

Oh, and by the way, the point behind this blog post is to point out what makes a good photograph... and what makes a good photographer. Every good photograph tells a story, and every good story has conflict.
But you gotta become a good photographer first.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bumper sticker

"Photography been betty betty good to me." So good, it allowed me to retire early. Here's a bumper sticker I made to celebrate that fifteen year head start on retirement.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Photography is a lot like life...

We've all heard a million of them. They're on bumper stickers, pins, and lots of articles:

Photography is a lot like life—

...being at the right place at the right time, has its ups and downs,

...mistakes happen,

...half of it's negative, wait and see what develops.

I guess photography is also a lot like a box of chocolates. And a box of chocolates is a lot like a speckled pup, and a specked pup is a lot like a Buick floating on the ocean, and the ocean is a lot like photography, and photography is a lot like life....

HEY, WAIT! No it's not.

I saw a show on TV yesterday, and this gal was riding a horse in some deep snow. She said, "This snow is like an ocean." I heard her say it.
Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy simile and metaphor as much or more as the next guy, but here's my point --
When she compares the snow to an ocean, her mind works to find equivalency. What is lost in the effort? The true nature of the snow.
While she's "finding" comparisons, she's losing the truth, missing the true nature, skipping right past the real thing. All in an effort to find connections. No connections were necessary.
Yes, but you say that's how the human mind works. Fine.
I will agree that's how most minds work, and if you want to settle in with the most, allow me to join you for a moment. I can play that game of muddled thinking. Let me see...let me see.... AH! Elvis is a lot like an Elvis impersonator.... No wait, I've got it! Photography is a lot like pizza.... No, wait, even better! Photography is a lot like Elvis eating pizza.
Oh what the hell: A pizza is a lot like a photograph of a pizza, until you try to eat it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Seven rules broken. So?

Seven broken rules

Photographers and other artists fall into two camps - those who talk about the rules and those who don't. Those who talk about the rules tend to learn them, follow them, teach them, preach them, and then hungrily start looking for more. They also judge others' art according to the rules they've learned.
Those who don't talk about the rules tend to ignore them in practice.
Then there are the clever folk who say you must first learn the rules before you break them. Sadly, when people learn rules, they become part of their system. Trying to break them after they've entered your bloodstream is practically impossible. Doing something against one's nature will present itself as artificial, superficial, contrived, and silly.
We also have those who just try to be different in order to be different - sort of like adolescents. Different is not better. Different is just different. And if it's done without a good reason behind it, it's just silly. Certain hairdo's come to mind, and when they look back at their yearbook photo in five years, they cover the picture in shame and embarrassment.
As artists, one good guideline to follow is to ask yourself if you'll be embarrassed by it in five years. (Note: 95% of all art gets worse over time. Of the remaining, 80% remain mercifully in good standing, and 20% improve over time. These are not scientific numbers but are intended to make a greater point.)
As for me? When I first started in art, I started to learn the rules. Very quickly, fortunately, I found out what the rules were for. I went about gathering the rules, but kept them outside my system by labeling them "Silly Rules." This allowed me to become aware of them without them being invited into my bloodstream.
May I suggest the same approach for you?