Sunday, April 18, 2010

C minor

Dogwood leaves close-up

I’m having a hard time posting after Lent. On the one hand, I want to keep the habit. On the other, all of you probably need a break. So. I’m being quiet and lazy.

I went to the Four Bridges Art Festival yesterday, a major arts festival in the southeast (I guess, although I don’t remember ever hearing about it before). It reminded me that a whole other artists' world exists. Getting into a prestigious festival must feel the same way for a visual artist that getting into a good writing conference would feel for me. It’s always strange for me to have the doors open on a whole new realm of competition, to realize how it must feel to be a painter or photographer struggling for legitimacy, the same way I struggle, but in a different medium.

Visual art is not my forte, although more and more I give myself permission to take photographs. It’s one of the things I’ve been allowing myself to do without asking that I be perfect, and it’s amazing how much of a difference that makes.

I’ve learned so much by just trying to mimic the photographs of photographers I admire. Like a writer learning by writing the exact same sentences of her favorite writer. (I’ve tried that, too.) My method lately has been to search for a new idea for a picture, and then just to search for ways to take that picture, with my crappy little point-and-shoot. I change the background on my computer every month to a new National Geographic shot, just as inspiration. This month is this green castor bean leaf interior.

It inspired me to take the picture at the top, looking up through the leaves. And this one, of ivy.

I love ivy, and I love the dust of pollen gathered on its top in this picture. I wish I could have captured it better.

Part of my fear of being a photographer is not having a good enough camera. I realize what I could do with a better lens. Then I realize what a cop-out that is. Because anyone can use that excuse. My goal has to be simple: to take the best pictures possible with the camera I have.

The hard part of taking photographs isn’t equipment--it’s courage. Photography is a much more public art than literature. I was at an art festival yesterday, but everyone was afraid to be seen making art. I thought more people would be taking pictures. The only people unafraid were the children, making chalk art on the pavement.

So the hard part is having the balls necessary to break out the camera, no matter how dumb and beat-up and podunk my camera is. The hard part is being brave enough to say: I’m not afraid of looking like a tourist. I’m not afraid of imprisoning the souls of strangers. I’m not afraid of looking a fool.

Walking here from the parking lot, I saw an amazing broken-down building, shattered glass, barbed wire, no-entry signs, grafitti—a hundred fantastic pictures. But how do I give myself permission to take them? With everyone watching? Some of whom have more photographic talent than I do in their left little fingers?

Because no matter how good the photographers at the festival were (and they were amazing—check this guy out, who had a beautiful picture in the same vein
), none of them were taking pictures of that broken-down building, at least not at that moment in time, in that particular light. The key, as always, is doing the work. If I don’t take the pictures, I can’t learn. If I don’t take the pictures, they don’t exist. They will never exist. No one in the universe can take the exact picture I can take at this exact moment.

Writing, journaling, recording my thoughts either here or by myself is the same. If I don’t put them down, I lose this moment. I know I need to keep writing, too. I can’t commit to every day anymore, though.

I can’t sustain my own or anyone else’s interest at that pace. I’m thinking about a thrice-weekly posting schedule. How does that sound? If I say it out loud, maybe I’ll do it.

Will I? I don’t know. Okay. I’m going to do it. I will post, from now on, on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Until otherwise stated. Will someone comment and yell at me if I don’t? If not, it’s your own fault if I slack off. Or maybe you're ready for me to shut up. Who knows?

1 comment:

wfrenn said...

Kyle Spears photography blew me away! He shows what eye and imagination can do with what we see. W O W ! Thanks for bringing him to us.
Many people visit your blog and read you. For every commentary, you probably have twenty readers.
Blog when you have thoughts that won't leave you alone, whether they be on a Sunday, Wednesday or a Friday. You have enough routine in your life, not to routinize the writing you love. Your best writing will be when you are thoughtful, so that you just have to sit down and get the idea out on paper.
You write because you think, not the opposite.
Most of your blogs are thoughtful; a few, probably when you were mostly "idling," were not so inspired (I commented on the few I thought less than stellar, few enough).
Would love to read your novel on line, but I don't think that will happen: too "imperfect" right now, too close to home, and too big a chance someone will steal and publish it as their own!
Keep the faith in land, roaming, adventuring, and writing!
You may not get to India, but you will arrive at some New Found Land.

The Capt'n