Sunday, September 09, 2007

As Gene Autry sang, "I'm back in the saddle again..." Meaning that classes are well underway and fresh faces are looking to me for guidance. OMG, that sounds corny. I was going to use the work "teach" but after reading on another blog about whether or not you can teach art, I decided to use the term guidance. I guess I'm in agreement that you can't teach art, and shouldn't even try. I CAN teach the techniques of photography, whether they be digital or good ol' silver, but I can't teach art. I can't teach anyone to be an artist. I can discuss with someone the inner voice they are trying to follow, suggest ways of expressing that voice, but their VOICE has to be their own. It has to come from within them. But this issue is not limited to just students, we all have voices that have to be followed. If you're not listening to what coming from inside you, you are merely copying what's already been done. This may sound like I'm preachin' but not listening to myself. I photograph "things" -- things I find in the landscape that make me stop and question why. Some would say that's hardly a unquie thing to do, but I like to think that I'm looking through a biased set of eyes that has taken me more than 40 years to get in focus (pun intended). A friend of mine seems worried that her comfort in making images using her Holga cameras is not at her core, and she keeps trying to make "Holga'ish" images by other means. I happen to think that she speaks more with her own voice through the Holga. Run long, run hard. She wants badly to make those same images with her digital SLR's, and probably feels a bit guilty over the fact that she's spent whole bunches of resources in doing so. Her choice of a toy film camera for shooting and outputting digitally sits her squarely on the fence separating old and new. Or maybe I should say she is marrying the old to the new. She does both well. Her visual strength is in the freedom from technology the toy camera offers when photographing. But her technology strength is allowing her to express the toy camera voice. How cool is that? Long story-short: I think we all will face this more and more in the very near future. Even now my friend, Stephen, shoots almost exclusively with an 8x10 on Tri-X film. And while his "serious" printing is done via silver, he is constantly scanning his negs for making proofs and give-away prints, not to mention putting stuff on the web and emailing. We are at the juncture where the digital technology is totally integraged in our daily routine outputs. So, I'm back in the saddle, but not teaching art. I'm mostly demonstrating how to process film and make prints in the wet darkroom, process camera files and make prints in the digital darkroom, and offering advice how to tune a bunch of different visual voices. And trying to speak with my own voice at the same time.

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