Don’t Look for Great Images – Look for Different Ones

In Edition 105 of his Lenswork Magazine, Brooks Jensen talks about some of the things he does to help unblock whatever it is that is preventing him from being creative at various stages of a project.  For me, one of my greatest challenges is simply getting started.  For sure, sometimes I have problems maintaining momentum once I do get started – usually because “life” gets in the way, but it’s getting started that I struggle with most.

More often than not I push back starting a new project because there are simply too many other things that need to be done.  However, after returning from my Death Valley trip, one of the main things that has stopped me from doing as much as I would like with my images is the fact that although Death Valley is such a vast place, there are so many iconic locations that have been photographed pretty much every way possible, and my versions of images at those same locations simply don’t hold up when compared to others – at least that’s the way I feel.  I know there is a whole, separate discussion here where I am going to be told to stop comparing my work to others and instead, focus my energy on figuring out how to make my images my own, but it’s only natural to want to understand what it is that makes you question your own abilities.  But after reading Brook’s article I started to wonder if rather than looking at my photographs to figure out which ones of the iconic locations could be great, maybe I should look at them from a different perspective and look for images that are different from anything else I have seen.

And so about a week ago I started to do just that, and I surprised myself.  I started by looking at photographs I took on my first day at Zabriskie Point.  It is one of the more popular locations and is the source of many iconic images that symbolize Death Valley.  In my review I steered clear of the photographs of wide, open landscapes and instead, focused more on the intimate scenes.  In doing so I realized that many of the photographs I had taken were simply of the shape, color contrast and texture of the rocks, carved by the elements over millennia.  I hadn’t realized that I was doing this at the time but I was clearly attracted to these intimate details and therefore I decided to make a mini-project or folio of this subject, which I am now working on.  I now have my starting point and just need to maintain momentum.  The image that accompanies this post is a sample of what I am hoping to produce.

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  1. Another good post Arthur. I too struggle getting started but then find when I do the creative energy just flows. You’d think by now I’d have learned to trust myself more, right? But no, it is MUCH easier to think I can’t for some reason.

    I’d say you are off to a great start on this project! Looking forward to more.

  2. Insightful as usual Arthur. Yes, getting started is always a challenge for me also. It used to bother me that the first session of a photo trip was always a struggle to get going creatively. Lately I’ve learned to embrace it as part of the process, enjoy the moment without counting the clicks. So much better to let creativity find me than to anxiously pursue it, usually in vain.

  3. Thanks for the comments everyone

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