December 2, 2016

Sketchbook & Shifting Perspective

Not a keeper, but the best of this week's efforts will serve as visual reference for another attempt incorporating lights and a tripod for greater depth-of-field and warmer color.
One of the staples in my pantry is frozen shelled edamame. When I'm hungry and don't want to fuss with food preparation, edamame make for a fast, one-pot meal. Boil up some pasta, throw the edamame in the pot for last 2 minutes of cook time, drain, toss in butter or oil, top with walnuts and parm and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Done. Simple. Satisfying.

Being in a new place, the edamame in the freezer is from a brand I've never seen before. I took one bite of my simple meal and declared to the Hubs, "This edamame is awful." A second mouthful proved this false. It wasn't edamame at all, but lima beans. Lima beans in edamame packaging. Now, I like lima beans. But not when they're supposed to be edamame.

After this disappointing meal - I just couldn't rewire my edamame expectations to lima bean enjoyment - I sat with sketchbook in hand and pondered my creative practice. Or, more accurately, my efforts towards re-establishing a regular creative practice. And why I am struggling and floundering in my attempts to create a daily or weekly rhythm.

Then, a shift in perspective. Like cracking a nut and getting at the meat nestled inside. Brought on by contemplating my odd revulsion to the edamame / lima. Until now I have been setting performance based goals for myself rather than process based goals. And this just doesn't work for me. The expectations taint reality.

I've mentioned that I used to shoot a minimum of 2 rolls of film per week, that was my process, my rhythm. I took the film in for processing once a week and spent all day Monday in the darkroom making test prints of any of the shots that looked promising. Eventually, months in, I'd edit the stack of test prints and make large, final prints of the images that survived the culling. The process based goals were shoot 2 rolls a week, work in the darkroom on Mondays.

Now, with digital, I've been trying for one keeper shot per week. Which could mean taking a single shot or shooting hundreds of images to no avail. Working towards this performance based goal does not allow a rhythm of work to be established. It's disjointed. The expectation of producing a keeper takes the joy out of the process and stymies exploration and experimentation.

The instantaneous nature of digital photography, combined with my performance based goal, are to blame. When I immediately scrutinize each and every shot, I interrupt my flow. Jumping from shooting to checking the shot on the camera, from uploading to editing images on the computer, back to shooting... Well, it's the type of busy, disjointed "multi-tasking" that I abhor. Flitting around from one task to another isn't productive nor efficient. Frankly, it's death to creativity because the "busyness" prevents focus and sustained effort.

So, it's high time to switch back to process based goals. And pretend that my digital camera contains a really long strip of film that I access only once a week. A shift in perspective, a removal of expectations.

By the way, I had the leftover limas and pasta for lunch the next day. Combined with corn, it was akin to succotash on pasta. It was delicious.

No comments:

Post a Comment