(Mods... feel free to move this to another forum if needed. I felt it would resonate here, maybe.)
I just thought I'd take a moment to catch up with everyone here, as I kind of dropped off the face of this forum (the world?) for a few months. This post isn't going to be so much about medium format, as it is about priorities (artistic and otherwise)... and my return to the things I love.
I though it might make for an interesting read in the face of all the brick walls and crooked sensors.
This will be bit personal, but I hope it illuminates a few things about my points. On December 7th, 2009 I lost mom mom to suicide. She was a long time sufferer of bipolar disorder and finally succumbed to an internal pain that we all had no idea was so terrible. She and I were very close, so needless to say it was a devastating event in my life
That's not really what this post is about though... it's about a chain of psychological changes spawned by such a shocking event.
So, I've been struggling with a lot of things (artistically) for a long time. I was a professional trumpeter for more than a decade and had been longing for a few years to finish up some unfinished doctoral work and re-enter the world of music, both with the camera and the trumpet... but me and my kids were intertwined with mom's life and felt compelled to stay nearby knowing she was prone to deep depression. I also had become reticent about my current path in wedding, portrait, and fashion photography... hence the "Daily Landscape" practice I had started back in November (which ceased when mom died). It was an attempt to slow down and begin to "see" again. I still longed for contact with people in my photography as well as an expanded amount of landscape work...
The loss of a loved one, in a way, was freeing in that it allowed me to sit back and really think about why I valued the things I valued... and for me "the moment" is more about taking time to get everything ready for the shot. It's about the setup before the shot that gives me the opportunity to catch the moment. It means attempting to set myself up for a single perfect capture (yeah, right)... all things that I find missing in much modern portrait and wedding photography. The "setup" could be on a wedding day (finding the perfect light, angle, or moment) or could be setting up lights, reflectors, and conversation leading to a wonderful musician headshot.
I also would be remiss if I didn't mention something deeply personal. In the wake of Mom's death I went through a particularly disturbing event. In getting a slideshow together for her funeral I noticed a pain in her expression that I never noticed in real life. Over the course of some 50-odd years of photographs (she was 59 at her death), virtually all of them had a deep sense of pain behind the eyes. It's odd how someone can love us enough that their love can blind us to their internal pain... and only in retrospect do we see the pain.
This has made me really push to strive for getting past the "look into the lens and smile" syndrome... which leads only to a subject/camera connection (as opposed to a subject/taker connectionwith the camera only being used to "freeze time")... and to get past the "you guys just talk and I'll spray off some shots in order to capture the moment". I can see where, for me, a return to slower and more intimate means of capture might just help me to connect with my clients in way to see behind the eyes. For me, MF is one means to this, although 35mm could be used just as capably (as this is a means of working, not a camera choice).
I'm not sure where I want to go with this, other than to say "hey guys, I'm back" and to let you all know that the insights I find in this forum are important to me. I'm in the midst of picking up an RZ system (always was my favorite) and am going to be selling off most of my 35mm stuff when I've completed my current 35mm-intensive obligations (weddings!) and picking up a p25+ in order support a deep love of shooting faces... maybe a tech cam later... but in the meantime, a simple kit for slowly and methodically shooting lovely headshots (one of my true loves in photography).
I'd love to hear how some of you have come to value a slower means of working (maybe as it applies to MF?)... and if you, too, have experienced things in your life that have called your artistic direction into question, and eventually brought you "back to where you always wanted to be".
Oh... and I'll be at LSU this fall finishing up a doctorate in Trumpet Performance where they are going to let me minor in photography (funny, huh) in support of my inclination for a mixture of my love for visual and aural arts.
And all due to the introspection afforded by the loss of a loved one.
Me and Mom... in 1979. One of the few photos in which she looks genuinely happy... a crappy scan of an old blurry polaroid. I love it: