I don’t like it anymore
August 12th, 2019
I should actually say ‘I do not like it like this anymore’. Looking at my pictures taken and processed in the past all – or almost all – I can see are my mistakes and shortcomings, as if they were holes in the picture. All that I learned from the last time I worked on those images, post-procession wise, and all I experienced in life slowly changed me and altered my photographic vision as well. I am not entirely sure it is a good idea to return to old images and try to better them – after all if I find faults in them it is almost a given that after some time, if revisiting, I will find them wanting again. So perhaps it is better to wait so more or never try to ‘improve’ old images and just work on new ones like there was not tomorrow?
Change and challenge are part and parcel of a learning curve and those who – like me – enjoy the road more than the destination can testify that in fact – as far as photography is concerned – there is no destination, only direction (or directions) we can decide to choose.
I imaging that selling a picture is a truly nice moment. It never happens to me and perhaps never will but then again I do not crave it all that much. I remember a painter I hang out with yonks ago and recall the moment he did sell a large picture for what back then seemed a lot of dough. The summer was in full swing, we were enjoying the beauty of a small ancient town and obviously – being young and rather daft – squandered all the money in a matter of a few days. Once the booze and makes were gone, my friend said something that stuck in my head – he said he needs to do another one like the mag he had just sold.
Another one, exactly like that.
He might not have had a claim to being a great artist but I still recall the picture and it was, in truth, a very solid piece of art. He knew his craft. Yet, rather than pursue his own path, he chose to please a potential customer and put on the market another superbly executed landshaft.
Whether it is the security call or laziness, I cannot tell. Possibly a combination of both. For him tough the challenge ended there and then and was always thinking of what happen to him afterwards. To be precise, I was thinking what happens to an artist who decides not to pick up any new challenges and sticks to what he or she already knows and excels at.
At the age of 21 one wild Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud put a wrecking ball through French and European poetry with his Season in Hell. Shortly after, ending his literary career, he travelled extensively on three continents as a merchant before his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday. I wonder if he ever wanted to go back to writing poetry but assume not and think of him as a happy person who found a new, satisfying, way of life and if he looked back at his former self it was no more than as if he had been looking at a postcard from a place he once visited.
Rimbaud is just a useful distraction here – I am merely trying to say I do not know of any big name artist who would not continue with his art, even if he or she resorted to copying himself. The real question is not if, having made such a drastic choice, one can truly be happy with it (I believe some can) but if one would need to subdue an inner urge to create, and subdue it daily. In other words – is it possible to let your inner artist go, completely.
Is the need of challenge a deeper urge than the need of creation? I believe so. Is our urge to create a response to this urge? I guess a part of it is. A change is a useful catalyst for our otherwise hidden creativity to erupt. One of the reasons why I return to my old images and try to update them is to witness the change that happened in me with more tangibility. It is a good feeling to know you are not stuck in the rut and still capable of developing. I may not like what I did some time ago anymore but this feeling I do enjoy and it is what propels me to seek new challenges and keeps me welcome a change with my arms wide open.