Sustenance

Go on the road long enough and your mind will begin to play tricks on you.

I recently returned from a three-week work trip which took me from Vancouver to Savannah and many, many points in between. As you know, I normally have a camera in hand along the way. This trip, because of it’s pace and requirements, forced me to pack my gear away during transport. I would get to my destination for the day, unpack my leather “Dan Bag” and also unpack my gear and THEN head out into the day, days that were primarily about giving presentations for Blurb.

Every now and then, I’d get a second or two to shoot, and I mean every now and then. Over a three-week period I shot two rolls of film, which should give you an idea of how packed these trips were.

Creatively speaking, I was desperate, starving. I feel this unbelievable pull to be making things, so I do what I can to satisfy this need as I’m plodding through daily life. I write, I sketch (poorly) and I make the occasional photograph. And I talk to myself, daydream and think of the future. I’m not sure what else to do.

I love doing these trips because I love being in the field and I love unlocking OTHER people and their creativity. The creative world is constrained today, constrained by an odd assortment of baggage, history, tradition and learned behavior. My job isn’t to talk about Blurb, that would be too dry for me, but rather my job is to shake up the playing field. I present ideas, show people things and then get out of their way. It’s fun.

But the meter is still running the background. The creative meter, which comes in the form of a whisper or a memory or a reminder. These pictures I make on the road are like decaf coffee, in theory they are fine, but they leave me a bit flat. Perhaps it’s because I’m not as connected to them as I need to be, or because I can’t stop and consider them in the field. There is no time.

They are photographic empty calories but I find them essential to my current existence.

10 Responses to “Sustenance”

  1. Andrew says:

    Great post and a great way of phrasing it. Makes perfect sense. Thanks.

  2. Harold says:

    These images still have the measured stamp of a photographer as opposed to the digital spray of the average traveler. I do get the time/pull constraint issue as well. Although work may not change hands you are still collaborating with your audience that are freed from the limitations of traditional thinking. So you add “art” where it perhaps didn’t reside before.

    I do wish you some real caffeine, not sure how you do that. It is problematic. During my dad taxi runs I will occasion to stop and grab a shot but feeling like I could spend half a day is usually not an option. Maybe the Blurb folks could squeeze in an extra day between engagements. There is always more to come…

  3. LionelB says:

    Even with the benefit of time, it is like a roller-coaster ride dictated by mood, how the light plays and what shows itself. The frustration then is that if you scrunch up the time available, the peaks become even more elusive. These images are strong. What transpires then is that although too exhausted to appreciate them at the time your capacity to make them was not blunted. Cause for hope.

    • Smogranch says:

      Lionel,

      Well put. The time gets scrunched and thus the ability to think about them or even look at them goes away. Maybe that is the entire rub.

  4. Mike Fioritto says:

    It’s interesting to me to find photographers, who driven by the need to create, but without the time, often turn to their feet. http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult_VPage&VBID=2K1HZONRMR8CH&SMLS=1&RW=1383&RH=965

    Koudelka has several examples as do you (first image above). I think there is an imperative to express things visually, but during moments of little time, it is often like a sketchbook; quick glimpses of something nearby that has caught our attention.

    Love the last picture in this series by the way. I have been re-looking at Bernard Plossu’s book “Forget me not”. I seem to be attracted more and more by these kind of images. Not sure why yet, but I certainly would have glossed over them 20 years ago.

    All the best.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,

      There is a great book by Raymond Depardon called “Voyages.” It’s small and super thick. His travels, broken into chapters kinda, but more just about life as a traveler/photographer.

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