It’s been two years since I wrote a week of lists, but I thought I would start this last four months of 2016 with revisit to that old meme. So, starting on the first, the eighth edition of the Week of Lists begins, called the “Turning 40ish Edition” with deep and engaging topics such as this one…
I’ve been pretending to be a serious photographer for over a decade now. It’s longer if you delete the word “serious” from that last sentence.
I’ll be the first to admit, however, that my pics are usually and consistently technically solid but tend to lack something of the flare and spirit that would elevate them to the next level. In other words they’re nice photos but they don’t always tell much of a story, either about me or something much more important than that.
I haven’t seen the chart in a while, but there used to be this meme floating around the net that was a kind of maslov’s hierarchy of photography, where on the bottom you had the gomers who drooled over pure specs but whose photos were mundane and weak-at-best, while on the top were uber-pros who had transcended photography as a craft and were now just farting out pictures without apparent effort that were works of super-genius-art.
At 40ish I don’t want to be either of those guys. But I think my 40s will be a time of photographic infolding where I stop pestering myself to be some kind of technical wizard and instead dig with more affected effort into a few high level focal points, like…
5. Dooing Stuff Pix
This probably sounds vague and not exactly a challenge. After all, aren’t you always taking pictures of “doing something” — action shots. I guess what I’m getting at though is more than just the action of a shot and right back to the notion of a photo that evokes a story, and here’s the important part: a story of yourself… wait for it… doing stuff. Call it sentimentality, call it ego, but I think by 40ish you have probably started down this path of a rigorously defined self image. You’re not getting younger, but you’re getting better at knowing who you are and what you are and why you are. If not, I can’t help you other than to suggest that maybe you should trying documenting it, say through photography, and perhaps you’ll start to understand yourself a bit better.
4. Candid Portraits of All Your Peeples
Likewise, whether it’s friends or family, the act of being a social being is in this weird place in your life. If you’re anything like me, a tail-ender of the gen-x fail-eration, you’ve spent your life striving towards this idealized version of success defined by you’re parents off-target aspirations blended with the societal urge to keep up with the metaphorical joneses clashing with the birth of the digital-millenialpunk-reality of the internet. In other words, you spend too much time working and watching netflix, and have a largely virtual social life that stands in for what would have… could have… should have been a real social life. In other words I suggest you learn to take pictures of your friends and family because it will force you to spend more real time with them.
3. Vacay Street Photography
Oh, and this has nothing to do with documenting your latest booze cruise around the Caribbean or Mexican beach resort slosh, either. Street photography isn’t about urban or streets or even the photos: it’s about opening your eyes when you’re out in the real world. I see the fail in my generation and it’s that (even with access to a wide world of information, the ability to travel almost anywhere for virtually nothing, and the potential to experience the entire world in a way that is mostly safe and abstractly) we, so many of us, me included, choose to treat everywhere like its a theme park that exists for our amusement. A guy I roomed with in U recently spent eight months dragging his family around Europe in a minivan, and while he probably didn’t immerse himself everyday in this ineffable thing I’m hinting at, I got the vibe from looking at his photos almost every day that he touched it, honed in on that truth of the world, felt it on more occasions than I can lay claim to. My challenge for my own 40ish (and for yours too) is to bring yourself close enough to an unfamiliar reality that you can capture its essence in a photograph. It will be far more difficult than you expect.
2. Self-Promo Shoots
In a slightly different vein, but similar to number 5, I would also suggest your literally learn to document the awesomeness that is your work, craft, skill, and life. I don’t care if your thing is building bridges or just de-greasing gaskets, take a photo of it and prove it to the world. The one truth about this modern life is that everyone is responsible for their own. No one’s going to show the essence of your work except you.
1. Something Orig
Also known as “stop posing”… you’re a 40ish-er… go out and make your mark on this rock already. Quit pissing around copying other people’s ideas. Even Shakespeare only had another ten years.