I hate photography. I hate it because I often see potential photographic images, but I rarely am able to get them to actualize into real photographs. I don’t have the time or opportunity at that moment to stop and take a photograph. I can’t get to the right location to get the right view or framing. My little camera gets too shaky and blurs the image. I don’t have the right lenses or equipment. The equipment I do have I am uneducated in how I can use it to effect the outcome of my photographs. My reasons and excuses for failure run on and on and on.
This weekend I went on a trip with my family, up to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. I had become frustrated with my camera, and I sort of decided that I would try to not take any pictures during this vacation. I would just be there and enjoy the moment and not let myself get consumed with these urges to document anything that looks interesting to me. Great things rarely come from following them, anyway, and there are enough pictures of the Tetons already, right?
So, I did good with the not taking pictures thing all afternoon of my first day in the park. I walked around on a shore trail on Jackson lake and it was perfect in real life but the light was so bright on the lake and the mountains so backlit that I knew it wouldn’t be worth taking any pictures. This made it easy to stay with my goal. But later, driving to a different area of the park, my dad stopped the car at a certain point and started taking pictures of the mountains, and I looked over at Mount Moran and I liked the way the light looked on it and the way a little sagebrush ridge came up in front of it, and I wanted to take a picture of it, even though I knew it wouldn’t turn out the way I wanted it to turn out. I hoped the feeling would pass, but my dad kept taking pictures (I think he has the same problem I have, but he hasn’t yet recognized or admitted that it’s a problem). Trouble. Finally, I succumbed and I brought out the camera and took the picture. Then I tried it like six different ways, none of which were that great. Oh well.
As the trip went on I only fell into the trap a few more times. I had to play with the way the mountains were reflecting on String Lake. I had to take pictures of the Tetons and Jackson Lake and the surrounding valley from the classic spot on Signal Mountain. I became mesmerized by the water in Yellowstone Lake, and the only thing that broke my trance was the thought of what the waves and ripples of water would look like if I took pictures of them. And then I had to snap photos of bison in Hayden Valley. And then I had to take pictures of Yellowstone Canyon. But other than that, I was good with my goal.
I think my problem is I want to be a good photographer, but I don’t or can’t put in the time for it. You can’t be a photographer and a tourist. When you are a tourist or sightseer, you get to places when you get to them, and that is your chance to take a photograph, and if its not the right time of day or if there are five hundred people there that is just what you get. Usually there are the other people in your group to consider as well. You try to make it work, and usually you fail. Photography requires a special trip all its own. A certain place must be chosen and studied. The luxury of waiting for the right moment must be provided. You go to a place because it will provide good images at the moment, not because it is convenient or the next on the list. You then achieve the usual postcard image.
However, there is part of me that feels that documenting things as they really are is of value, even if it won’t sell postcards. I looked back at my pictures tonight, and I actually liked a lot of them. Many of the skies you would think were too bright and distorted against the mountains, and yet it expresses what it felt like to look at it exactly. It almost hurts to look into the sun, and in these photos it almost hurts, too. I looked back through some of my other photographs and realized that a lot of my favorites are the mistakes. They are interesting to me, even though they don’t follow the “rule of thirds” (whatever) or they are blurry, or whatever it is. They didn’t turn out the way I had hoped they would, but that doesn’t mean they are not of value. The ones that do turn out the way I expected are sometimes actually quite boring.
So now you can see why I hate photography so much. I hate it because it takes over my mind if I let it. I hate it so much that I am going to have to get a Digital SLR camera and learn how to use it.
[I refrained from including any of the images from my trip on purpose, because I am just kind of a jerk like that. I think I will start posting my photographs on here randomly whenever I feel like it, not in any type of groupings by location or subject. I have threatened to to do it before, but this time I think I will really do it. It will be a help in blogging consistently.]
[I wrote this last night (9/4) on my laptop while the power was out from a windstorm, so I couldn’t post it until today.]