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  • The Secret Books
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    by Jorge Luis Borges, Sean Kernan
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Teaching and Lecturing
« Three stories with a lot to teach creative photographers. | Main | Here's something to try that would seem quite radical if It weren't so simple. »
Monday
Mar112013

Think Inside the Box

It's boon sooo long since I posted I'm kind of ashamed, but I'm working on a book about creativity, and will put up bit of that soon. Meantime, here's a short thought about the commercial side of photography and its effect.

Spend your days making work to fit your client’s visions? That’s how we do our business, but it’s not how we started. Most of us began by simply looking around, seeing what was out there and making pictures out of it. No clients to second guess.

It’s not so easy in the midst of a career to return to that kind of spaciousness and harvest that open-ended seeing. Paradoxically, though, you can do it by choosing a narrow door and entering it briefly for a while. Just pick a time of day and any place at all and take photos then and there. Do it, say, four times a week.

That’s the whole formula, right there. I had a student who did this years ago. She photographed a single room at dusk for a month. She had no outcome in mind, but she trusted that something might happen and she wanted to see what it might be.

What she got was a series of luminous and enchanting photos of light changing and transforming a space over time. It was a long and beautiful visual poem.

I’ve assigned this kind of thing time and again and it is a wonderful way to allow unexpected work to emerge. It doesn’t even take a lot of time. I learned a lot from this student, which is the way teaching goes if you’re doing it right.

Recently I snapped a single interesting photo on a walk near my house recently, and now I’m months into a project I call Winter Light. It is better than anything I had in mind on that walk, and it leads me picture by picture..

Which, now that I think of it, is just the way I started in photography.

So think up a box for yourself, jump into it and see what you can find in that space. It’ll be more than you think.

 

Sean Kernan

seankernan.com

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