I was rummaging through my stockings drawer the other day, looking for the perfect stocking, with the finest texture and the most gossamery feel. My intention? Not to wear it for a fancy occasion, but to repurpose it for a higher goal. Cut it, stretch it and use it for soft-focus creative printing in the darkroom.
I did find my best pair of stockings and sacrificed it for photography. But that also made me consider the other things I’ve been sacrificing, many of which I wasn’t even thinking of. Am I doing all this in full consciousness and so taking full responsibility of it, if I am not aware of the required dues and hidden losses it brings on?
Apart from the huge material investment, of course, that is acquiring or replacing cameras, film, paper, electronics. Or the never-ending learning process that always swallows resources and time. The expenses of trial and error in this artistic quest. And the very tangible submission fees to gallery shows and then the shipment of the actual framed photographs. And seeing your work devalued by societal standards.
But it’s also the submission to the elements – cold, rain, fog and early rising – just to capture the perfect moment in perfect light. Or, the opposite, the time spent in the darkroom, when it’s a great day to enjoy the sun outside. The patience and time investment to be there with camera in hand when the moment you are looking for actually happens. And the loss of dignity when approached by cops, unable to convince them you are not a terrorist but just find those contorted pipes so interesting to capture on film. In general, the voluntary agreement to appear creepy when photographing things and people others don’t consider a normal photographic subject.
Most of all, however, your position on the other side of life, behind the camera, looking on instead of being in the middle of it. When you are a photographer, you don’t really participate in what you see around you. You enjoy it and cherish it, yes, but it’s a different kind of enjoyment. You separate yourself from the things surrounding you and even though this gives you a precious kind of perspective, it also isolates you and makes you so lonely sometimes.
That’s why I really value the enjoyment others find in my photographs. That actually compensates the loneliness and isolation invested in taking them. So this post is not to complain, only to reevaluate. After all, everyone makes sacrifices for the important things in life 🙂