Giving Myself a “Talking To”

Fire and Water

I’d like to clarify something once again. That means I’ve already tried to do so previously, but need to remind myself…

Fact: The days when I’ve “got it going”, on all fronts are few and far between. The days when I’ve “got it going”, on any one front are not all that frequent.

Fact: I try to wear many hats (some would say TOO many): stay-at-home mom (aka parent, cook, laundress, editor, gardner, dog walker etc), photographer, writer, sometimes jewelry artist, and most recently “blogger”.

Just because I push the “publish” button every day on my computer does not actually mean that I have written anything that is worth reading that day. To even imagine that I might write something interesting every day, or even most days, would be the height of arrogance. Some days I am convinced that I am writing solely because I’m entranced with the shapes the letters make on the page. Its better when they are handwritten letters in colored ink, but since I committed to write something here daily for 365 days, on those days when the writing seems to be nonsense, I have to settle for being in love with words made of black printed letters.

This blog also consists of at least one photograph daily. Sometimes it takes more than one to tell whatever “story” I’m attempting to convey. Its also true that the photographs that I “publish” here, just because I “publish” them, does not mean they are “publish-able” under any other circumstances. Some are. Some are simply the best I could do that day and when I post that day’s entry, I hope for better the next day. Often its subject matter, which, to me, means I have suffered from a lack of “vision” that day. Its not that the photos I love are all of something more exotic, its just that I was somehow able to see something with a different kind of “vision” than I do on the days when everything seems ho-hum. When the subject matter is good and I’ve failed to capture it in a way that is technically good, that’s more tolerable. I learn something that I can put into action the next time I encounter a similar set of circumstances. A failure of vision is a failure of creativity, which can only be changed by changing my attitude or continuing to press the shutter until my vision clears (my attitude changes).

This afternoon, I parked myself in a chair at Victrola cafe with my notebooks, camera and a couple of pens. I wonder how many languages I know how to say “painful” in. After a couple of pages of forced garbage, I gave up, looked around and decided to “seek the light” in the cafe rather than on paper.

Afternoon light

Nothing exciting was happening, but my eyes fell on the hands, sleeves and hair of the young woman sitting just across from me by the window. That was enough. As I pressed the shutter, I heard my kids voices… “God, Mom, you’re such a creeper!”. But, it wasn’t about her. “She” was not the point of that first photograph. She was simply the doorway in. I could see again. It was as if a scene that was black and white suddenly acquired color and after that, the world came back to life.

Between the cafe and my desk at home a half hour later, I managed to find another 15 images worth shooting. The lights of Bellevue, above, were the last images. I was on my way upstairs to upload the photos from earlier when the windows across the lake captured the fire from the setting sun. Ahhh… patience.

These images may not be genius, but after a day that yielded primarily a lot of creative frustration, they were good enough.

The funny thing is, I had read a short article earlier today that I’m going to include a link to here even though the audience addressed is clearly photographers. David DuChemin wrote an entry in his blog Pixelated Image called “Suck-Mode”. He might be a photographer addressing photographers, but what he writes is so well-written, funny, and really universal that I wanted to share it. Basically, everyone sucks sometimes. Phew! At least, as I went through my day wrestling with my notebooks, the words, and the pen and losing the battle; and as 6pm approached without shooting one frame that I was truly happy about, after shooting all around town, I had his message in my mind and was able to shrug the rest off as “suck-mode”.

Last night, I was positive that I sucked as a parent. This morning I was pretty sure. By mid-day, I was sure that I had made the right decisions as to what Gillian really needed from me. Another Phew!

Sitting down to write this entry tonight, I was warning any potential readers (while reminding the writer) that suck-mode is part of the deal. If I’m going to write and post photographs in this format every day, sometimes I’m just going to suck.


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