What the Glasses Saw, 2011
Okay, so sometimes I'm just slow on the uptake. Or maybe I just don't know what I'm doing when I take some pictures. Or at least I don't know where I'm headed with them.
The linear part of me gets a little upset with this. I mean, I set out to take pictures of one thing and end up focusing on something else altogether, and then even that becomes the gateway to something different still. Where’s the order in that?
I used to feel that I was still working my way through copying the style or content of every good photographer I’d ever studied. Now it seems I’m riffing on my own work. I think this might be progress.
Take What The Glasses Saw, above. The roots of this photo are in the series of pictures I took a few weeks ago of store windows in New York City. In that series I thought I was collecting pictures of engaging visual merchandising in shop windows. But it turned out that the better outcome of that series wasn’t about the visual merchandising, but instead about the reflections of the city that appeared in those windows. And I did get some interesting pictures from that exercise. But as in New York, the picture I like the most from the group I took in Washington that past Monday morning turned out to be not only what I thought I was doing, but yet another twist on the reflection paradigm.
Up until the moment I took What the Glasses Saw, I'd been paying little attention to the contents of the store windows I was shooting. I was focused on the reflections in them, and how the merchandise in them either set up, complemented or confused the reflections. It was when I happened to be checking out the possibilities of an optician's shop window that I realized that in addition to the store window reflections I was looking for the eyeglasses themselves were reflecting a view, as if the glasses were observing the street view.
So it goes like this: 1) I started looking at the windows and then 2) through the windows, and finally 3) through the eyes of the contents of the windows.
It's possible, of course, that I would have seen this picture opportunity without having gone through that progression. But I kind of doubt it.
Sometimes you’ve just got to plow through the early generations of something and not let yourself get bogged down in the belief that you’ve done your best already or else you’ll never get to the best part.