If there is one thing that I have learned while taking photographs is that there really are no limitations. No limits to what can be photographed, no limits to how things are photographed and no limits to the number of people telling you how to photograph. There is no ‘best’ way to do things. There cannot be. There is only the ‘honest’ way to do things – and if that way is followed then there can be no limitations, because it can take you anywhere.
I suppose that you could call it being open to new ideas, or to be able to follow your intuition. Maybe you could call it a way of thinking in an unusual fashion – or making strange leaps of imagination. Wherever these ideas come from, they must come from within you and they must be you.
I imagine it as a bit like that cartoon cliche where the cat in the toy train is laying the track in front of the train as it moves along. You are not sticking to the rails that others have put down, you are discovering and laying down the track as you go. And you decide where you place the track by following your honest, true feelings.
The tricky thing is that following yourself can lead to quite a few crashes. It doesn’t matter. Just keep on going. It is so much better to have just one year of following your own crazy ideas than to have ten years following someone else’s.
And thinking about this made me wonder why it is so difficult sometimes to understand what artists in general are talking about. They can talk in such a way that can alienate you and confuse. They often seem to make no sense at all. This is because they are deep inside themselves, and their process of creation is so wound up with their essentially unusual way of thinking. It is as if they have discovered their own language to allow them to make work.
Now, this is so often mocked and taken advantage of by artists who have not delved deeply inside themselves – they can basically talk any old bollocks and if you don’t understand it then that only proves how deeply they have thought about the subject and how little you actually know.
However, this fake arty talk cannot get an artist very far. They get found out. The ones who talk honestly about their work and themselves can always be spotted. The ones who try to sound deep but who have not been deep inside themselves just end up in knots.
But the honest artist or photographer doesn’t have to speak in a certain way or act in a certain way. They can keep their thoughts hidden – their inner process hidden – their honesty hidden. And that leads to quite a charming, humble and fascinating person. Someone who seeks things in secret. Someone who doesn’t need reassurance or to discuss what they discover to see if it is valid. They don’t need to work using old processes, or new processes, or unheard of processes. They just need to do what it takes to get the results that they have been looking for – that special moment that gives you your reward. And that is something well worth going deep inside yourself for.