Have you ever heard of a Holga? Or Lomography? The Holga might go down in history as the biggest piece of shit plastic camera ever produced. And it was made in and for the country who is notorious for producing cheap crap replicas of reality–China. At the same time though, they produce pure perfection like the Mac Book Air I am typing this post on. Lomography grew out of a similar trend. This time with a piece of crap Russian camera. Both of these tools had a lot of things in common, mainly their light leaks and cheap fabrication, and it was primarily these two features that surprisingly allowed them to grow a cultish following among photographers. If you knew your camera leaked light along the top horizontal edge, you could effectively compose for it and use its disadvantages to your creative advantage. Much like Guerrilla Warfare.
I can already feel my purist colleagues rolling in their proverbially graves. What no multiple exposure merging? Disregarding image perfection. It is necessary to make sure that you eliminate the shadows and find detail in every part of the landscape. Your thought process is ludicrous Jay. You have fallen off your rocker. Maybe sippin’ a little too much of the Old Lady’s moon shine again are we? Maybe. But I am changing, not into a butterfly, I am developing my mission and viewpoint as an artist. And as this occurs, my likes and dislikes are changing as well. The world is far from perfect and I am beginning to believe that photography shouldn’t be perfect either.
Photography is becoming extremely sterile. And in that pursuit, so is the creativity, so is the style, and so are the images. I am seeing so many photographs of popular places in different light (albeit amazing light) with different compositions, but these images now possess almost nothing of interest to me. Is it because my growth as a photographer is turning me into a snob? I don’t think so. Is it because I am tired of looking at the places I have seen so many times prior. Probably not. I think it is because those images are becoming so typical in their style that they are benign. Lustless. Clean. I want True Grit or at least a grit that fits the subject.
I think this quest for perfection became a most sought after ideal as the film industry began to give way to the digital era. Companies like Fuji had films like Velvia with its ridiculously fine grain structure. They worked this engineering so hard because publishing techniques and secondary separations tended to blur/muddy the final outcome at that stage of the technology game. That mission of smoothing out film continued with noise in the digital sensor. Nikon has managed to surpass their heralded D3s with their forthcoming D4 in noise suppression. Now every image will be perfect and to the entering amateur that may in fact continue the sterilization process to the point of a photography demise in my opinion. There are times I want that noiseless perfection, knowing full well that I can junk it up if I so choose. So even at a time when photography is becoming sterile, I want a camera that can produce sterile as long as I can create T-Max 3200 with light leaks in the end.
Maybe you are striving for that image perfection like many others. Perfect light shining across some vast expanse as the sun kisses the horizon in an f22 starburst with just the right amount of pink clouds in the upper third of your composition. Ah yes. The perfect checklist of capturing one-stop exposures for your ability to join everything together in a two-hour Photoshop session. I know, I have been there, and sometimes still go there, although not that often anymore. I want grain. Simplified color. Or no color at all. Strong lines and textures. What I often thought I wanted was Jackson Pollock. Now I want Jay Goodrich–a recognizable situation, with abstraction mixed in to the point that you almost fall off of my view point, but somehow manage to stay connected as you see that point get driven right through the head of my subject like a vampire stake. I am going to take your checklist, crumple it up, and light it on fire. Why? Because I can. Now all you have to do is leave the cattle behind and come join me on the razors edge. I will have a mason jar full of black cherry moonshine waiting for you when you do.