A couple large prints would look great on these walls.
Photographers are a funny lot. So easily distracted. I just came back from the camera store where I came within an inch of buying the new Fuji X Pro 1. I resisted and had a cupcake instead. But as I drove home I thought about it. I had been working – happily printing my Antarctica series at the Loft – when I got it into my head that I needed to look at this camera. Not sure what I was thinking. I mean, it’s a nice camera, but I don’t need one. What I need to do is my work. The work. Anyone who’s read Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, will recognize this as what Pressfield calls Resistance, that self-sabotaging force that convinces us that almost anything is more important than doing our work. What is that work?
Create. Then Share. Then do it again.
Sharing is a theme I’m thinking a lot about, and you’ll hear more about it in the coming month. The truth is, I’ve neglected sharing my own work the way I want to, for a couple years. Yes, I put it in books and blog posts, and a monthly wallpaper, but I want to do more. I want to show bodies of work, I want to print large, I want to curate my own collections and, in the words of Rabbi Hillel, though I’m taking him wildly out of context, “If not now, when?”
The amazing thing about sharing our work is that it keeps the gift moving. But it does something else. It improves our craft. The feedback loop that is created when we print our work large, for example, sends us back to the negative to print it better, to be more attentive to the small things. It also makes us aware of mistakes we make chronically; in my case I routinely underexpose by a stop or more, and I pay about as much attention to the cleanliness of my sensor as I do to the Easter Bunny. The only difference is the Easter Bunny doesn’t keep showing up in my final photographs.
Sharing can also force us to heed our edits. Knowing others will see our work, though this is not true, it seems, of hundreds of thousands of people on Flickr, pushes us to be more selective. Printing does this even more. When you know each print costs you $20, you think twice about whether you need to print every one of the 100 frames of your cat that moments ago, while you were posting up a storm on Flickr, were all pure gold. A collection of a dozen well-selected photographs is usually much more powerful than a loose collection that you haven’t taken the time to edit.
Perhaps now’s the time to get your collections in order, cull out the dross, do a second edit to find missing gold, and then share them. In the past 5 years I’ve done Blurb books, put carefully curated albums on my iPad, made large canvases, and made and framed fine-art prints. I’m beginning to put new work up on Google+. Today I saw greeting cards made from MOAB fine-art papers – why not print up a dozen and give them to people as gifts, or one at a time when someone does something nice for you? My new loft has given me other options and I’ve just put a cable up to easily hang a large print on a rotating basis in my entry-way. Where can you show your work at home? I even heard of one photographer who prints up a new collection of work every couple of months, installs it in his home, and does a one-night gallery evening with wine, and invited his friends, many of whom buy and collect his work. Why not take some time to finally get that 500px account you’ve been talking about, and post a dozen images. How about looking into MOO.com to make cards showing your best work. Even if you never plan to work as a photographer, how great would it be to give people a card with your phone number and one of your photographs? Get your work out there, give it room to find a life outside your harddrives.
How do you share your work? I’d love to hear from you.