March 28, 2009
Are You A Photographic Grazer?
Are you a photographic grazer? You know, someone who shoots here a little and there a little, and has an album of “greatest hit” images but doesn’t have a cohesive group of images?
I understand, I used to be a “grazer” too. I hated focusing on one subject and enjoyed looking around for something that would catch my attention. The image above, “Skeleton,” was created during my grazing period. It’s a nice image (one of my favorites) but it has no companion pieces and it’s not a part of a collection. It’s a stand alone image.
I grazed for several years until something happened.
I proudly assembled my “greatest hits” and sent them off to Lenswork. While polite, Brooks Jensen’s response was basically: “Hey! Didn’t you read the submissions guidelines? Pick ONE image and send me 15-25 on that subject.”
That kick in the butt was what I needed, and I think I was ready. I then picked “Grain Silos” to focus on, and worked on that project for several months. Instead of getting bored like I thought I would, I became obsessed and really enjoyed myself. This resulted in my first “portfolio” that I purposely set out to create.
I enjoyed that process so much that I went on to create other portfolios:
- Ceiling Lamps
- The Ghosts of Auschwitz and Birkenau
- Ukrainians, With Eyes Shut
- Linnie: A Portrait of Breast Cancer
- The Oregon Coast
- The Lone Man (in progress)
- Harbinger (in progress)
I’m currently starting a new project that I’m very excited about entitled “Surprise!” (don’t ask me what it’s about, I won’t tell!)
Now for those of you who also resist picking a subject and focusing on it, again I do understand. It may be that you’re not ready yet, I think you have to satisfy that “grazing” desire by indulging in it for a while.
But it might be that you are ready, but haven’t found the right subject that really excites you. I believe you must be completely passionate about a subject before you can have have fun with it and do a great job. If you don’t feel that way, I’d suggest you choose another subject.
It’s very satisfying to create a “cohesive body of work,” it’s also addicting!