Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On the Other Hand

To the Fields, 2004

My friend Tim Connor and I share many of the same sensibilities when it comes to photography. We both wish we had more time for making photographs. We both wish we’d taken more art classes when we were in college.

The first college I attended didn’t look upon photography as anything more than a hobby, and offered scant encouragement for even that. When I moved down the street to the big public university, the one with the respected art school, I was too naïve to realize that I could use the opportunity to move from the business school to something more artistic. (After a stretch of some tough years, I was focused on studying something that offered at least the prospect of regular paying work.)

Maybe Tim and I turned out okay. We’re both voracious observers of other people’s art. We read a lot. We’re self-taught students of the history of photography and the work of many photographers.

We don’t look upon our choices as regrets so much as missed opportunities. On the other hand, if we’d turned out like people who write the following, I’m not sure our artistic callings would have been much of an addition to civilization. Speaking of photography, the writer comments:

“The fact of its indexicality—the subject had to have existed to be photographed—has been an enabler of this perception, at least to the extent that photography continues to straddle a position whereby it is neither unequivocally true nor properly figured.”[1]

In all fairness, this is just part of a lengthier essay by a well-regarded critic and popular portfolio reviewer. I mean her no ill will. It would probably be best, though, that I not run across her at a portfolio review. She’d probably be trying to give me good advice and I wouldn’t understand a thing she was saying.

[1] PQ, a Journal of Contemporary Photography, Number 99, Volume 1, Number 1


  1. Mine is full-blown regret. I didn't have the confidence (still don't) to commit to a degree in the arts, even though my mother tried desperately to talk me into it. Instead I picked a science (geology) just because the professors were cute and the idea of a field school out in Colorado sounded like a great way to spend a summer.



  2. I have to laugh--I had to read it four times and still didn't know what she meant, and then read on--I feel better. Reminds me of a workshop I took where the instructor said, "Find the light, and paint the landscape in it." I thought, "yeah...and how, pray tell, do I do THAT??"