“Must We Be Consistent?”
“The worst thing we can do it to plan a conversation;
to decide ahead of time where it will go and what will be said.”
– David Bowie
I was looking for some different images to print for my walls this weekend, and came across a whole series that I had done in Galveston last year and not paid much attention to. The image you see above is one of them. I like it!
And now remember why I printed it once, showed it to a couple of people, and then put it in a box.
At the time, it wasn’t enough like the images I’m really fond of (see my book, “I Dream of Galveston”).While the book images are soft and foggy, the images in this new series were crisper, more finely focused. Sorry, no fog.
I felt the magic when shooting, but after printing, even though I still felt they were “me,” I discounted them, felt they didn’t “fit.”
Fit with what? My vision of what my work was, who I was as a photographer, a kind of image that had become my “identity.”
But what is our “identity”? The same kind of image, over and over?
Or an exploration of who we are and how we see the world, and a wonderful dance of finding the many ways to express it?
I think we may sometimes confuse consistency of truth with consistency of image.
In photography and in our lives, we make the mistake of thinking that if things continue to look the same, we’re good, we’re doing it right.
We look at a body of work; we look back at our lives. And as we reflect on what we consider the good and the bad (always judging, can we stop that?), we look at the outer results. Did I achieve what I intended? Is my work consistent?
Instead, perhaps we could soften our vision, and in the mode of consistency, ask if we were true to our values and sensibilities. Because consistently living our truth, both artistically and in living a life, the outer results don’t always look the same. They don’t necessarily follow a predictable pattern.
And while sometimes uncomfortable, that’s a good thing. It challenges us to stretch, use all facets of our being, discover exciting possibilities, and ultimately create amazing art, relationships, and lives.
After having some time away from my crisper images, as well as the book images, I can now see that the new series is still very much “me,” me expanding on a theme.
Actually, it expresses a more personally expansive sensibility.
While I had cropped the earlier images and printed them small (I wanted more focus on the people, less sand, and an intimate quietness), these more current images are printed full frame, large, celebrating the beautiful vastness of the beach, waves, and sky, and the people who are happily a part of that.
We are all of the images that we shoot….the foggy ones, the crisp ones, the people, the places…All reflect who we are.
Must we be consistent?
Consistent in our sensibility, the truth of our vision, and the expression of our values…in our art and in our lives.