Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stories Everywhere

 Telling Their Story, 2008

I’ve been looking at David DuChemin’s new book, The Inspired Eye 3: Notes on Creativity for Photographers. (Available for $5; perhaps the best $5 you’ll ever spend on the subject of photography.) I’ve written about DuChemin before. He’s an awfully talented guy.
But the last year or so hasn’t been so good to him. As he puts it:
“I have experienced some pretty dry times; times of creative exhaustion when I’ve felt I’ve had little to offer. And then toward the end of that, I fell off a wall in Italy, broke my feet and pelvis and, just when I thought the creative process was difficult, it got harder.”
DuChemin’s a smart guy and a resilient one, as well. He’s spent months in the hospital and in rehab, slowing recovering, rebuilding his strength and creating new muscle memories.
It’s natural that one who’s had this experience will have some down days, even down months. But DuChemin has acquitted himself well during this time, pushing through the wall of depression with projects and the completion of this latest book.
In the Introduction to the book, where DuChemin addresses the question of where ideas for projects come from, he quotes Malcolm Gladwell from the latter’s book, What the Dog Saw.”  When asked where he gets his ideas, Gladwell answers that there are stories everywhere if you attune yourself to noticing them.
 Bob the Boat Man, 2003

Gosh, that sounds familiar. It seems like barely a week goes by that I don’t have some story about learning to notice things here at What I Saw.
Gladwell has learned, as DuChemin puts it, that “Everyone and everything has a story worth telling.” To this end, Gladwell has “learned to look deeper and overcome his initial assumptions that what he sees on the surface of things might hide something better, more interesting, underneath.”
Ephesus Man, 1996

I really ought to have these words etched on my arm. I’m famous for saying there are stories everywhere, that you don’t have to go to India or Italy to take good pictures. But every now and then I, too, go through stretches of creative drought and need something to propel me out of this ennui because the truth is we all do have stories, and they are everywhere to be seen and shared. Pittsburgh taxi driver and peaceful protester Tom Blancato, has a good story. The man in Ephesus with the rock in his hand has one. Bob the boat man also has one, though he won’t tell it. 
The problem isn’t the lack of stories. It’s just getting out there and uncovering them.
Tom Blancato, 2004