Dating my daughters

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When I was a young man, I remember a slight shudder running up my spine at the idea of any future daughters, upon their beginning to date young men. As it turned out, my only “daughters” are my creative productions.. photographs, drawings, radio programs, stage performances, etc.

FireDance2

Recently, I came across a blog post by Andrew Ilachinski, at his Tao of Photography , on viewers viewing gallery art. Go give it a read, if you find that interesting; I’ll wait… . ..    .                   .

For the rest of you:

Reminded of my experience, years ago, at a gallery showing of two themes of my black and white photographs, I joined into the comments on his post:

“I once noticed an interchange between two viewers (of my own work,including some almost abstract closeup studies of line texture, in a friend’s gallery) which suggested a conclusion about art and perception. One of them, from the opposite side of the long narrow gallery space, came and got her friend who was looking at another image just below where I was standing, taking her to the one she had been looking at. Neither realized I was present, maybe not even knowing I Was the photographer. The first woman said (something like), “Look. I can see (whatever it was she saw) in this. See it?” The second said (approximately),”No.. I don’t see that.. but what I DO see is (whatever She said she saw), as plain as day”
And they were definite, but quite different impressions, at least with respect to their respective “images”, but interestingly, it seemed to me both impressions were similar in character or “feel”.
Rather than feel as if my work had failed, I began to wonder if it had succeeded on a whole other level, since they seemed to have gotten similar emotional experiences on viewing the same image. They just explained or interpreted their emotional response with different “specifics”?
In the end, I began to think that it doesn’t matter what the “abstract” image actually “portrays” to those who bother to look; maybe what matters is that we make an image that has the organization and technical skill that clears the way, distills the experience, so that a viewer can bring his/her inner experience to the image. Sloppy images may provide a “confused path” to/through the image, while an image made by someone who composes somewhat cleanly, with organized elements and dynamics if you will, lets the image be a mirror for the viewer.
I take that as a high calling, actually… maybe Just as great as showing them what I saw.”

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Wayne Upchurch

For years, as a “professional ogler” (a newspaper staff photographer), I simultaneously explored photography as craft/process/medium in its own right. The photojournalism work –credentials and mindset– got me into (and out of) places I would certainly never have had access to on my own. I was also practicing the discipline of getting a picture where there didn’t appear to be one and getting it Finished in a timely manner, to professional standards. I also learned to create imminently readable images despite poor reproduction in a small size. Though it took me several years to get this, the value of making photos that illustrated something already laid out in the story was suddenly Not Enough, and I began to make assignment pictures that added dimensions not already in the writing, or better Yet, raised questions so that the reader would go to the story for more answers. Having gained more than dreamt of, when starting out, I left to pursue my own personal photography, mounting exhibits along the way. I also worked with commercial photographer friends doing studio product photography, and making headshots for actors. Later, I also helmed a Public Radio “spacemusic” program, and acted in a Wilmington, NC drama company. I put the cameras away for a few years, to finish shedding the habit of self-limiting my identity as just “Photographer”, and can now pursue personal pleasure and expression through the freedom that digital imaging offers. Sharing photos on Flickr and participating locally in meetups and outings has renewed a passion for making new images and for sharing the process with others. For some time, I’ve found myself writing detailed comments on other people’s photos, as well as thoughts and pet ideas about photography, in general.

One thought on “Dating my daughters”

  1. You are right that in the end it doesn’t matter what the image actually shows to those who look; as long as it creates any experience for the viewer. The deep well of the subconscious wants to be confused so It HAS to create associations, often new ones, to outwardly comprehend a presented image.

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