Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
By 5:30 a.m. the moon was setting, and the view looked like this:
Time Lapse--Sunrise, Monument Valley from Paul D. Healey on Vimeo.
More photos and stories from the trip as I begin to sort through them.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that photography taught me to see. It's an exorbitant statement, I know, but photography has always been a motive for me to really look around myself. This works in several ways. The first is that looking for photographs has taught me to really examine the world around me. This has made me much more conscious of things I would have missed otherwise.
As someone who is primarily interested in landscape photography, this enhanced vision has brought me into close contact with the outside and the natural world. Interestingly, this means not only an appreciation for vast vistas, but also for minute details. I don't think I really began to look at flowers until I noticed them through the camera.
That hints at another way that photography has enhanced my vision. Especially in earlier years, by looking closely at a photo I had taken, I would notice a detail that had escaped me in the past. This, in turn, would lead me to look for those details in the real world in the future. Thus photography was part of a feedback loop that helped me see more and more of the world.
I suppose that being visually engaged with the world is a reason for pursuing photography, rather than the other way around. Even so, I can't shake the feeling that without photography I would have missed so much. I'm just glad to have had the chance to see at all.
Friday, October 15, 2010
There were 25 photographers entered in the contest. Of the 25, 23 got some sort of "Best" award (e.g. "Best use of color" "Best photo involving children," etc.). I was one of the two who didn't get an award. We were also the only two whose pictures were matted, but not framed. The photo contest rules did not require frames, and as a poor college student, I couldn't afford them. This outcome was a shocking blow to my young and fragile ego. The contest was the first time I had showed my work publicly, and I was humiliated when the results were revealed at the opening reception. I was very emotionally invested in photography at the time, and this felt like a wholesale rejection.
What I realized was that I had to decide who I was doing photography for: Me, or other people. If I was doing photography for others, at least in the sense that I needed the approval and attention of others in order to validate it, then I would have to play by other people's rules. If I wanted to win prizes in photo contests, I would have to learn the unwritten rules, like having frames, and concentrate on the subjects and styles of photography that other people enjoyed. My work would have to cater to the taste of others if I wanted to succeed. This is a simple truth that all artists must confront (not that I'm an artist).
On the other hand, if I was doing photography for myself, then I could do whatever I wanted. The fact of the matter was that, even if my work was crap, I liked it. It pleased me to look at my own pictures. I enjoyed taking them, and working them, and seeing them. I didn't need the approval of anyone else to do this. I was free to be whatever photographer I wanted to be. If I really enjoyed photography for its own sake--for the self expression and creative impulses that it satisfied--then I should be able to take all the pictures I wanted, and never show them to anyone, and still be happy and fulfilled.
I have become a strong believer in the idea that in order to do our best in society, we each have to look carefully for our own happiness first. Not in a way that refuses to care for others or ignores responsibilities, but in the sense that we can only contribute the most we have to society when we are truly happy with what we are doing. Doing this creates a way to let your intuition lead you to a better place. I call this approach "enlightened selfishness." (It has nothing to do with the political philosophy of enlightened self interest.) Like I say, the pursuit of our own happiness shouldn't come at undue expense to others. But pursuing our own happiness can lead us to better things. I wouldn't give up what photography has given me for the world, even if I was the only person who ever saw my photos.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
got under my skin at an early age, and has stayed there. The way that some people feel compelled to write, or draw, or dance, I feel compelled to take pictures. Indeed, if I had any coordination or talent for drawing, I might have gone that direction instead. Since I can't draw to save my life, photography was my option.
Why I should want to do this is a good question. Photography is expensive, and time consuming, and for those who want to show or sell their work, horridly competitive. Indeed, for most of the last 30 years I explicitly refused to show my work to anyone. I made images for my own enjoyment and edification. (More on that in my next post.)
This excitement at making images has only gotten worse (or better?) over the years. It's now a large part of what I think about on a daily basis. It gives me great pleasure to be searching for something beyond myself, and the searching is as pleasurable as the finding. Having the images I've made also brings great joy into my life. In that sense, it doesn't matter if anyone else likes my work; I like it, and that is sufficient to keep me going.
So one of the reasons I pursue photography is because it helps me create something that brings me joy, and in the process lets me move beyond myself in a way that helps me grow. But that's only part of the reason photography is so important to me. In my next post I will talk about the photo competition that changed my life, and that led me to develop a philosophy that I follow to this day. Following that, I will post some thoughts on using photography to learn to see, and then on making money with photography.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Last November, on a very last minute impulse, I booked a condo at Perdido Key for Thanksgiving. Some of my very first entries on this blog are about that experience. The scene above is the view from the condo I rented. Since then, of course, the Deep Horizon oil spill has fouled the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and driven away tourism. I haven't been back, but everything I can find on the web indicates that Pensacola, and Perdido Key, are doing just fine since the spill.
The weather was cool, but the skies were clear, and sunny most days, and the ocean was gorgeous. Even when it was cloudy, it was beautiful. Here is a short time lapse video of clouds over the gulf:
Time Lapse Clouds and Ocean from Paul D. Healey on Vimeo.