Sophomoric Humor and for the Love of Storytelling


Alright, let’s be clear about this photo. It has no other point other than dumb humor. Even I think it’s ridiculous, sophomoric and juvenile.

I expect no less from anyone looking at it. And just to provide context, this is Jason, at the Illinois Boys State Swimming Championship. I was killing time, he was actually working.

While there I ran into another photographer I’ve met before, she’s becoming something of a friend, but I we’re not quite at that point yet. We got to talking about what we enjoy shooting, the need for variety and effort. Maybe the effort part is where Jason comes in, he always puts out a 110%.

Anyhow, my comment to Tracy, and I hope I spelled her name right, was that 75-85% of all assignments are going to be the same repetitive crap and I do it to pay the bills. Thinking about it now I think it came off as a little more negative sounding than I meant, but if you wanted someone good with words you, and she, would be talking to writers and not photographers. The idea behind is that most shoots are pretty much the same as any number of shoots you’ve done before it. That’s fine. You do the job, you do it well, and you move on.

The idea isn’t that I don’t try hard at my job. The idea is more like what I would imagine it is being a striker in soccer. Whenever you get the chance you walk, or run slowly. You do this to conserve energy. While hustling constantly may help make a difference in any particular play, the difference it makes will probably be small. So instead you save your energy so that when you need to be able to strike hard, move fast, you have the energy for that sudden burst.

It’s a similar idea to what I feel I do. I take the day to day assignments, I do them well, but I don’t put out that extra energy to take a nice photo and make it very nice. Instead I hold that energy, so when the situation arises I can take a good photo and make it great, take a good photo and turn into a great photo story. I look at as being able to take an image of medium importance and story telling ability, and make it 20% better (yeah, percentages don’t really work with are, but work with me here) or take a potentially good story and make it 10 times better.

At the end of the day I don’t think artists have an infinite amount of energy; creativity, sure, but not the energy to carry out all those ideas. So decisions have to be made, sacrifices made. Happens in everything we do, it’s no different in art.

And mind you, I’m not saying this is necessarily the right choice. I’m saying that this is the choice I’ve discovered that works best for me, at this point in my life. It may be different for me in a year, or a decade, and it’s probably different for you.

Now I just need to find a story that lights my fire. It’s been a few months, I’m in the mood, but nothing has appeared that has really screamed “I need to do a story on this.” I’ve already got one planned for the fall, and some ideas of where I want to go for summer, but the season of the moment, spring, I’ve got nothing. At moments like this I count on the strangeness of the world and serendipity, and a story shall appear. I just hope it’s soon.

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