Spent this weekend in Virginia with Rob and Kevin, a trip predicated on a lot of 1-off tradition (considering we've only ever made the excursion once before). The original expectation foresaw the outing being an exercise of photography in the practical sense, and to a measure it was, however it also functioned as a remarkably effective conduit for introspection amid safe company. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, I believe Rob and Kevin came out of the trip with photos they'll be proud of until we inevitably one-up ourselves next year (or even sooner, ideally). Myself, I spent more of the trip internally struggling with concepts of "Why" and "What".
I will preface this self-analysis with the clear bias of envy I have specifically of Kevin's workflow. Rob and I have been photographing for a very long time by comparison, and we've established a rigid process that lends itself well to the working engagements we shoot. The business-end of things. Furthermore, Rob seems entirely comfortable with that workflow, and has adapted it well to his personal work in posting and sharing. Both of them seem entirely comfortable with what they're doing, so I find it frustrating that I cannot seem to discover the same comfort in my own process. I am not doing something I want to be doing. I am not accomplishing the things I idealize in the work of others. And I know what it is, have known for plenty long a time, but I'm still not doing it.
Kevin's workflow is entirely mobile. He is more than comfortable to rely on the tools available to him on his phone, and he produces amazing images even within those markedly limited bounds. Rob and I do this to some extent, but the end goal for us is always a sternly managed edit in Lightroom once we're back home on the desktop. Rob is comfortable in that process, but my own creative drive basically dies the second I sit at my desk at home. The enormity of the task of processing images isn't so much the issue, but self-imposed standards stall execution of publishing, what images do break that stall are daunting to share in such a way as to gather an audience, and frankly I don't entirely understand what the point of cultivating that audience even is anymore. It's the first trap of any artist who ever got the faintest taste of success... Not doing art for oneself, but rather doing it for the audience. The fallacy of that logic is clear. The audience was originally attracted to the artist for the work done for the self, so any variance from that is effectively a failed attempt at masturbation. How stupid.
This entire weekend was an exercise in masochism. While I enjoyed my company of friends, I did not enjoy my company of self. I enjoyed the experimental verve Kevin and Rob both exhibited with their photography this weekend, and felt frustration that such creative freedom and vigor had escaped me. Watching Kevin exercise his muse, especially, reminded me of the freely expressive drive I embodied on afternoons at Starbucks in 2009, and the experimental curiosity of evenings on the porch during the same period trying to capture lightning, or setting up shoddy "studio" setups with disgustingly stained bed sheets tacked to the wall with 100 watt pot lights. I see it in his photos every time we shoot together, that spirit of creativity. I long for it, but am trapped in the defeatist thinking that it has moved on.
Something needs changing.