Me and my brother getting a "photo with the parrot". My bro is the geeky one. Circa 1981 in NYC at some (obviously classy) restaurant in Little Italy. Photo by the Landscapist (my father)
This past Monday I drove the 5 hours to NYC to listen to Gregory Crewdson speak at the Guggenheim. I wasn't sure what I'd enjoy or relate to from this lecture. Crewdson's process and mine couldn't be more polar. He shoots with complete film-like crews, a director of photography, lighting out the whazoo, models, etc... I shoot alone with a duct-taped $35 tripod, natural lighting, self-portrait, etc... (oh and the $50k price tag difference in our work too). I guess you could say that I am the anti-crewdson of mise en scene photography.
So what a surprise it was for me to hear the similarities between himself and myself spout from his lips during the talk. Besides watching reality TV shows, what stood out most was the way he felt about his photos and picture making in general. Like my post a few weeks ago (link) where I proclaimed that I hate people with camera's or general picture taking after I took a typical Adirondack landscape, Crewdson admitted how uncomfortable he felt holding a camera. He talked about how he would much rather enjoy time with his family and children in the "actual moment", rather than viewing them through some viewfinder or fiddling with a camera. I feel the same way, that is why you'll rarely ever see any evidence of my vacations, exhibit openings, family get togethers', etc... unless the family member or friend accompanying me emails me their images of the event (link).
Luckily I also have the Flavor Flav of photographers (if Flav wore SLR's instead of clocks) living within 35 miles from me and his grandson. So family portraits/snapshots (see opening photo) are not hard to acquire.
More importantly than the refusal or disconnection of family snapshots and point and click type photography, were the reasons why he (and I) actually enjoys taking photos when he does take them. For him it was this "moment of stillness" for a few seconds after all the models were ready, camera was set, everyone was quiet and he makes the call to his camera director to shoot. I don't have a moment of silence during my shoots, but I do have 10-20 minutes of creative and emotional release during which I am making up my narratives on the spot, unplanned and in unfamiliar settings. It takes a lot of internal dialogue, gut reaction, and creativity to compose one of my scenes in this manner and it is the quintessential reason I do what I do. Even if I didn't produce a final image (which in some cases I don't get one), or if I never had my work seen in so many exhibits in such a short amount of time since I started shooting, I would still need that outlet or release. It's that internal artistic need to communicate.
One other point he made that I never thought about before is how after the whole process is over and the images are seen by others or exhibited, the attachment to them is gone. It's almost like viewing someone else's work. I again completely understand and can relate to that. That moment in the photograph, was for me, just that single moment. I don't read into the image anymore and I don't feel any emotions when viewing them, other than enjoying them aesthetically perhaps. I guess you could say in that way I am a typical manly man who after photographic coitus, just rolls over and doesn't cuddle?
With that said...I was happily satisfied by the lecture and it made the 10 hour round trip drive worth it.