After having taken down my “portfolios” from this site, and spending a considerable amount of time being mentally frustrated over the idea of a portfolio, I have decided I don’t need one. So that’s one less thing I have to do. However, it has pushed me towards thinking about my photography’s “end game.”
I rarely have “ah ha” moments. Usually I come to a conclusion after numerous small cues prod me into a long mental discourse with myself, followed up by a slow emerging revelation.
A few months back I was sitting in a bar, when the bartender asked me if I ever considered having a showing of my work. I told her that I didn’t have a unified body of work that would present well as a show. She then asked me why I didn’t go make one. At the time, I didn’t think it was that simple. I now think she may have been on to something.
Later on, I was talking to a local artist, a painter, and I told him the aforementioned anecdote. He agreed with her. At the time, I remember being envious that he was able to sit down with a concept for a series of paintings, and then stay committed and focused until all of them were finished.
Later still, I was going through all of the portraits I had made over the last few years. I was picking out my favorites, not based on technical merit but by asking myself, “Would I make this photograph today?” I started to realize that I lacked an emotional connection to most of them. Most of them were “good” in my eyes, and I was proud of them, but that pride was based solely on their technical merits. It was around this point that I started to understand my biggest fault, I was making photographs for all the wrong reasons.
I now need to ask myself, “Am I having fun?” I used to have fun. I used to be excited to go make photographs, with little care about the outcome. Now, the word that best describes my attitude towards photography is anxiety. Anxiety about their technical merit, anxiety about what others will say, anxiety about how to present it, anxiety about keeping a cohesive style – the list goes on, and that’s not fun, it’s exhausting.
I once wrote that I’d never go “pro”, that I didn’t want to deal with the stress of running a photography business, of always being “on” and in “presentation mode.” I just wanted to be me. However, I still kept my head in a cloud of self-consciousness and self-doubt. I’ve never worn a corset, but I suspect that I know what it feels like trying to breath in one – metaphorically speaking.
Humans are social animals, and I highly doubt I will ever be able to dismiss my regard for the opinions of others completely. And really, that’s not what the lesson for me here is. The lesson is about finding the fun. I need to go out and find the fun, and if you’ve made it this far into the post, then I suggest you too go out and find your fun if haven’t already.
On a side note, about my photography’s “end game”, I have a few ideas. First, as I said, I’m not going to have a portfolio again any time soon. I will just focus on making photographs and posting them here in a blog format. As far as presenting my work, I have a couple of informal projects that I am working on. I feel like I have, stylistically, begun to hit my stride – at least for now. I am finding a cohesion building in my work, and that gives me confidence in presenting them.