The photographer, W. Eugene Smith’s birthday is later this month. As I was searching different quotes attributed to Smith, I keep going back to this one. Every time I read it, I find myself nodding my head or thinking that is exactly right. But, why do I agree with the quote? I have struggled with that question and how to put the answer (if there is one answer) into words. I marvel at other artists who are able to distill what they do, and the stories about their art into words. I am not gifted with that ability. I struggle. I try. I fall short.
In this case, I realized that my journey plays a large part of why this quote resonates with me. Many of you probably do not really know my story. I have been encouraged a couple of times to share that story… even add an abbreviated version as part of my welcome to my amazing group of newsletter subscribers. I struggle with how much to share, what to share, and would it REALLY provide value to someone else.
Don’t worry. I am not going to get into the detailed time line of my life here. But, I do think this portion of my story is relevant to this quote. You see, I began my artistic journey back in the days of analog (i.e. film photography). I loved everything about film photography. I would spend every moment I could mixing chemicals and making prints in the darkroom. Maybe it is my introvert nature. Maybe it is my curiosity to learn and understand. Maybe it is my fondness for art and science colliding… all I know is I found it all simply magical.
After college, I put away all my artistic pursuits to work in the cubicle world and pay rent. Always, there was some creative outlet in my life. But, nearly 30 years later I was gifted a digital camera. Oh. My. Goodness! How things changed in my absence. I seemingly needed to learn photography again… from the ground up as the saying goes. I got the opportunity to learn photography a second time. How many people get that kind of chance?
Here I am over ten years later, slowly but surely learning, exploring, … You know what? I work at it nearly every day. Not one day have I ever felt like I did not learn something new, and never, ever, do I feel like I have all the answers. Never do I feel like I can just mail it in… put it on auto-pilot… do everything by rote. It is sort of like those nesting dolls where you open one and another is inside… and another inside that one… and on and on. My list of things I want to learn or explore never gets shorter. In fact, I think the more I learn, the more I discover to learn.
I realize that last paragraph would drive many people away from photography, or any other art form for that matter. However, in case you are wondering, I still find it all simply magical.