Canon 1Ds MkIII, 85mm, 1/160 @ f/1.2, ISO 800
After the last post, and what one reader called my exhausting angst, I’ve been shooting very little and just enjoying this place. Guess I just needed a break.
I’m really grateful for the comments left, and for the thoughts and ideas expressed in them, but I trust you know I don’t share this stuff to get sympathy or even input on solving a problem. I don’t think the creative process – complete with challenges and struggle – needs solving. I was sad to see one reader tell me he was checking out, cancelling his subscription and moving on because he felt my speaking honestly and openly about the struggles was “disappointing and misleading.” You can’t please everyone, and I’m not about to try.
Still, that outlook saddens me, though I understand it. I’m just not sure anyone who expects to create photographs that stir the soul, either our own, or of others’, can expect to do so without the struggle.
To be sure, the struggle is not the be all and end all. This is not angst. And it’s far from hopeless or even self-pity. It’s living life with a strong desire to find hope and beauty, and those things come not in the absence of struggle, but through them. Much like faith, which is not, as it’s often sold to be by hucksters, denial of doubt, but a choice of the will in the face of doubt. The reason I keep on about this stuff is because so many people, like me, wrestle to express something more, and are willing to put in what is sometimes surprisingly hard work, to find beauty. Once in a while our successes lull us into thinking the wrestling is over, so it hurts all the more when we find it’s still there, lurking in the corners of our illusions about mastery, etc.
We all have dry spells, and as some of you have pointed out, those do not signal failure, they herald possibilities.
I’m lying in bed with food poisoning right now, not sure when I’ll have a chance to hit Publish on this. But if this struggle I’ve been engaged in is in fact a search for beauty and a way to express it, then last night – before the gut rot started – was another milestone in that search. We left the hotel to find butter candles being lit, and rushed to dinner. When we came back it was raining, and the women tending the candles for the faithful were under umbrellas that bounced the gorgeous light around and added elements I’ve not seen here in 4 years of visits, proving once again that beauty is in the unexpected places, and is more like a lover playing coy than prey to be hunted. She has her own ways, and I find that makes the struggle much more enjoyable, and so much worth the effort.
Sorry if you feel the angst exhausts you at times, I really am. If you need to check out, I can recommend some conspicuously angst-free blogs that will focus entirely on kittens and rainbows and ways to make photographs with very little effort.
Thank you again for being the kind of community that embraces the mess and humanity of this art. If I survive the wrath of last night’s Veg Manchurian, I promise lighter things ahead, like trying to explain why this Canon shooter is beginning the switch back to Nikon, which I abandoned when I transitioned to digital. That one ought to be full of chuckles and giggles. Put your helmets on.
PS – 24 hours since I wrote this. Beginning to feel better, at least enough to get out of bed. We leave Kathmandu this morning for 3 days in Bhaktapur, then on to Bandipur.