“You see, we only have two alternatives: we either take everything for sure and real or we don’t. If we follow the first, we end up bored to death with ourselves and with the world. If we follow the second and erase our personal history, we create a fog around us, a very exciting and mysterious state in which nobody knows where the rabbit will pop out – not even ourselves. When nothing is for sure, we remain alert – perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind than to behave as though we know everything.”
Don Juan Matus (Journey To Ixtlan) by Carlos Castaneda
Throughout my 11 years at the Brookover Gallery in Jackson Hole I have often been approached by photographers and asked such questions as,
“How did you capture that?”
“What is your secret?”
“What camera do you use?”
“Do you shoot film or digital?”
In essence, none of this really matters as there is no secret. As in most endeavors, one often starts with an open mind, heart and eyes. How long one remains true to themselves and open will determine the length of their endeavor.
For example, when you have a camera and step five feet from your car and snap something quickly because you are either too busy or preoccupied, that image will inevitably have no energy or thought. In doing so, you have sided with the shallow surface of the world. One must dig deeper and seek out the unknown, the part within ourselves that asked us to stop THERE, at that particular place, at that specific time. Listen. Really listen, and it will communicate to you.
If you think you have all the answers from the get-go, then you’re doomed to produce more static, boring shots and might never feel the excitement Don Juan is speaking of. It’s wonderful to experiment with different angles, lenses, time and light – as this will enable you to strengthen your skills. However, be careful of being too dependent on them, and lose sight of the mystery the world has to offer.
Remember, “only the boring are bored.” Anticipating light, shadows and the excitement of the unknown is much more fun! Slow down, take a deep breath, smile, and follow this simple approach and your images will improve from the first day. When you see something that inspires you – take it all in, and then allow what you really see to shine through your work. The camera is just a tool. The vision lies within you.