Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maybe not original, but soothing

I know: I'm coming to the table pretty late tonight.  But it's been a pretty intense day, and I needed some downtime before I sat down to write.

It started with Pilates class -- first one in a while, as our instructor's been away -- but I learned one of our favorite class members, a truly wonderful and inspiring man, a photographer who has been encouraging and promoting my photography for years, is dying of pancreatitis.  It was a shock; I had thought he was in recovery.

Still reeling from that news, I met with the folks at the Parks and Rec department to plan out a workshop I'll be giving about playing with Photoshop (so exciting!).  After that I grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the high school to judge the annual student photo contest.

I spent the rest of my afternoon debating the merits of photographs with 3 other photographers, all gifted, competent, opinionated and willing to compromise: amazing discussions, and my first time ever judging by committee -- quite an experience!  Challenging, exhilarating, exhausting -- all of the above.

Just after I got home an EMT truck came down the hill onto the Sandspit; it's never easy to see that happen, as we have a number of elderly residents on our street.  But we later learned one of our residents had taken a fall down some stairs; nothing life threatening but a little TLC was in order.

And then I received an email with some more sad news, about another friend whose cancer has taken a turn for the worse; another case where I'd thought things were on the mend only to find that they weren't.

So I knew I wouldn't really have anything brilliant to say when I sat down here;  I just needed to process a bit.  I checked recent photos to see if any of them spoke to me, and this one seemed to want to come out and play.  I like the blues, because they're calming, and at the same time inspiring.  But I found myself looking at it and thinking, well, if this had been on the wall today, it wouldn't have won any prizes; it's NOT particularly original.

Because that was one thing I took away with me: there were pictures these high school kids had taken which were amazingly competent, appealing and saleworthy.  But they were not the pictures that won.  And when I said, "But a HIGH SCHOOL kid shot this, this is incredible!" the answer was always a variation on "yeah, but it looks like a magazine cover."

... which takes me back to the woman (I think she ran a gallery; not sure -- it was so long ago) who was judging a portfolio review I went to years ago.  "Well of course these are lovely," she said, "but they're just ... well ... Getty Images."  Implying, of course, that I was certainly competent, but not particularly original, and definitely not gallery-worthy.

Hmm.  I wonder if that's somehow been driving all this experimentation I've been doing these last few years.  Have I just been trying to prove I CAN be original?  I'm sure that's a piece of it.  But mostly -- I'm just having fun, exploring, creating things I like to look at, moving on when the well dries up.

But you know what?  Water, boats, mountains... they may not be particularly original.  But that's a well that never seems to dry up for me; these images still feed me after all these years, just as riding the ferry feeds me, and living on the water feeds me.  Plus -- on days like today, they sing a bit of soothing music to my soul.

So it's all good.  Even the hard stuff.  It's how life is -- ups and downs, good and bad, joy and suffering.  But boy, when it's all crammed into the same day?



Maureen said...

Reading your post and looking back at the image, I think the choice of picture was a good one. What does it say to me in the context of your post? You've come a long way; in the wake you'll leave some things behind. Small waves unsettle, even amidst the greater calm.

Diane Walker said...

Oh, Maureen, what a lovely way to look at this... thank you!