Sometimes, as a creative person, you absolutely need to unplug from the every day. Artists need their solitude and in a big city, it often feels impossible to find it. Whether that means going to a museum for a couple of hours, or walking in the park, we all need to break out of our comfort zone, and really, this applies to everyone. However, if you’re an image maker, particularly, you’ve always got to be stepping back to reflect on a different point of view. We are highly sensitive people and the noise that surrounds us distracts and distorts our visual learning. How can you change your frame of reference, when you don’t know what you don’t know?
On trips I’ve done to the Amazon, Big Sur or the Everglades, I’ve very purposefully cut myself off from humans to a large extent, to find the quiet inside me. While I’ve made some inspiring images on these trips, they’re really just for me and I don’t intend on being a nature photographer. Besides, the best pictures are probably still inside your head, so if you’re going to tap into this creative energy, you’ve got to find your pathway to connect to it. For me, it might mean seeing the Milky Way Galaxy, or the Northern Lights, both off limits from my view in Manhattan. With what’s called “light pollution”, we New Yorkers almost never see any stars, yet they’re always there. What else is beyond my reach?
While we’re explorers of light, the paradox is that we’re almost always overwhelmed by it, especially now, staring into our screens of every dimension. The time I used to spend in the darkroom allowed me to have a trip inward. It was spiritual and reflective and tactile. While I’m not romanticizing and longing for the nostalgia in the toxic soup of chemicals I used to expose myself to, I do miss the alchemy and the connection to something intangible and mysterious, as I searched through the darkness. It’s been over a decade of digital for me and Photoshop is no stranger, but I don’t get caught up thinking about techniques. Having been a beta-tester for Adobe since 1990, it would be too easy to let it be about technology, or contriving something. Ultimately, when my pictures come from my heart they’re about the authenticity of the moment. Discovering a new means to get there is a continual quest.
So, since we’re super social creatures, it absolutely makes sense that photography would become social and more collaborative than ever. We’re pack animals moving with our herd, so we’re not meant to be lone wolves for long. Yet, this is where we face our fears and expose our vulnerabilities to come in contact with our deepest power. Creatives regularly tap into it, yet largely take it for granted, and although it is always there for us, it is very often largely untapped.
Once you decide that you’ve arrived somewhere, or think you’ve discovered something, you’ve got to remember that you’ve only scratched the surface of this present moment. There’s always more there and you’ve got to look closer and farther. Discovery is made in these in-between moments and I’m always searching for them. Your best pictures are the ones ahead of you and not the ones you’ve done. Our potential energy is limitless, if we remember to pause, reflect and keep moving forward.