This is the hard part, the core, the part of photography (or any work really - creative or otherwise) that truly matters. This is the behind the scenes nitty gritty work of doing anything. At least, for me. I've struggled for a long time with motivation. It's hard for me to lift myself into action and as a result I find myself in deep depressions - questioning everything about myself. When I get this way, I take a deep breath and try to block everything out and remember what a friend told me once: "Action is the Antidote to Despair" - a quote I would later learn is famously attributed to Joan Baez.
"Action is the Antidote to Despair"
I will think myself into despair without moving an inch - thinking through all the ways I'll fail, all the ways I'm imperfect. Moving myself out of that emotional cycle is only possible by moving, physically and getting my mind to focus on the business of being active. And so im always trying to find ways to keep myself moving and engaged. I will walk, jog or drive (Im a gas guzzler!). Essentially, DO ANYTHNIG but think. Simply ACT without hesitation and/or discrimination.This weekend I did exactly that - spending time in the studio, organizing, printing, planning. Got coffee at my current favorite coffee shop, picked up a sandwich at a local bakery and visited the Uncle Bob's Photo Zine Market at the Hardy Nance Studios.
Twentysix American FlagsTwo pages of Twentysix American Flags by Laidric Stevenson I love books - photo books particularly. Not just picture books, but all books on the topic, the techniques, the criticisms, the very nature of photography and it’s practice. The artistry, dedication and skills with which each of the zines were built was so inspiring and moving. I ended up purchasing a project book from Laidric Stevenson, Twentysix American Flags. I also met Joseph Bui, who had a spectacularly created and curated intimate photo book of his family. I hope you'll take the time to check them both out!
Coincidentally, I had spent most of my morning printing photos for the studio, but after experiencing this zine market, it’s very likely I’ll be going through the archives and print a small book myself!
I spent the next day going though my own collection of books in my shelf looking for inspiration. I wanted to share a couple of my favorites.
Border Cantos by Richard Misrach is a haunting meditation on the southern border between the United States and Mexico. It's hands down one my favorite photographer's book in my shelf.
Gregory Heisler's 50 Portraits is probably one of my favorite books to revisit for specific technical inspiration. The walk-throughs of his process and technical decisions are so rich and valuable to me to say nothing of the information an experienced photographer can read between the lines.
Staying motivated and inspired takes action and engagement, just like the act of photography. I'm writing this as a reminder to myself to keep moving, searching and learning. Resist the urge to sink into yourself and disappear.