He said “change the world”…..and maybe there’s a way.

Sunrise at Wimbee Creek
Sunrise at Wimbee Creek

As I look back on the past 3 months of winter, by some definitions I haven’t done much. I’m ashamed to say it, but  I’ve been a couch potato for much of this winter, watching TV and reading….and lots of thinking about my artwork. And making decisions.

For some months, I’ve been questioning what the heck I’m doing taking my camera out in the woods and capturing scenes to print and sell (hopefully). Sure, I’m happy doing that, but am I really contributing anything important with my artwork? What difference is my artwork making to anyone?  I’ll probably never know the answer to that question, but at least I’m asking it. It comes from a healthy dose of self doubt.

This winter I read “Courage to Create” by Rollo May.  This book heightened my sense of what it can mean to be “creative.” May’s thesis is that all profound changes in humanity down through the ages began with feelings that arose from art, and that it was the responsibility– no, the duty–of artists to create art that changes humanity profoundly. He sets an extremely high bar for anyone who considers themselves to be a creative soul:  to “change the world.”

I wish I could change the world for the better, but I’m not sure I have that much courage.  I can be more creative in my photography, however, and perhaps begin to address that nagging concern about my art’s worth in the world.

The photographer Minor White once said “One should not only photograph things for what they are, but for what else they are.”  Maybe that’s what I’m after….how best to reveal the “what else” in my chosen subjects.

Revealing the “what else” requires a creative mind. Photographing the “what else” requires watching a subject closely for a time–even over several days–to get to know it, to give it time to tell us something we didn’t know before. Isn’t that what a photograph is supposed to do? I think so.

The amount of time I’ve spent thinking and reading over the past several months about being more creative I hope will have long lasting impacts on my work as an art photographer. I hope you see those changes, and I hope you begin seeing more of the “what else,”  not only in my photographs, but whenever you see an image that strikes you. I hope you begin asking “what else” does the image mean? Once we start asking ourselves such questions, we’ll begin engaging in photographs more deeply, and enjoying them more, and maybe even changing what we think about the things photographs represent. Perhaps even developing a fervor for the subject that will eventually “change the world.”  Who knows?

Other News:

  • I just returned from another week in the romantic Carolina Lowcountry. I love that area of the country. I spent every night camping out of my new Ford Transit van equipped with a cot and sleeping bag, and surrounding by all four of my camera bags, tripods, film gear, and food. That way, I was able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I thrive at being spontaneous (some would say impulsive).  I’ve developed all the film, scanned them, and am in the process of expressing the subjects the way I do. The header image “Sunrise at Wimbee Creek” is one of the first from the new series.
  • There’s still 12 days to visit my “Virginia Grist” exhibition at the George Washington University Ashburn, VA campus. Click the link to get details.

Have a wonderful Spring!

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