This week’s roll is the first I put through my Hasselblad 500CM. Which means I should probably talk about the camera and my experience shooting with it.
But I’m not feeling particularly enthused about that topic (incidentally, I’m not particularly enthused about the camera itself, so maybe that’s the driving factor behind my lack of excitement), so I’m going to ramble about something else today.
I recently watched two excellent YouTube videos from two excellent photographers (Sean Tucker and Matt Day) that addressed consistency in photography. Both of them touched on the value of pushing boundaries and trying things that are out of your comfort zone, but they both underscored how important it was to develop consistency in your photography. Trying new things is good, but that should be the exception rather than the rule.
I’ve always pushed back against this notion. Usually when I hear people talk about the value of consistency in photography, it’s related to making money. Simply put, more consistent portfolios lead to more clients. But as a hobbyist/enthusiast/whateveryoucallsomeonewhodoesn’tmakemoneyfromphotography, I couldn’t care less about that. And the experimentation of trying new things has always been one of the most enjoyable parts of photography for me.
But over the past year-ish I’ve really struggled with motivation in photography. The joy of exploration I used to associate with the artform has faded. Honestly, I’m not sure to what extent this is an issue with photography and to what extent it’s a broader issue with my life.
Whoa, that got a little too personal…gotta dial it back a bit…
If it is an issue with my photography, I think there’s a chance it could be related to me constantly trying new stuff. That’s great for exploration, but the whole “grass is always greener” phenomenon is a killer if you let it gain momentum. Humans always want more, and we also always want novelty. If left unconstrained, this yields a life of constant discontent since we’re always striving for the next thing. Damn that hedonic treadmill!
Ugh, I’m back to talking about my life now. Reorienting to photography: I worry that my urge to always try a new camera/lens/film stock/whatever is me trying to escape the ever-looming question of what I’m trying to do with these images (read: my life). Trying a new camera is a thrill that masks that deeper uncertainty of the purpose behind why I shoot.
I used to shoot purely for fun and to take my mind off work/studying/life. It was kind of a zen thing…I could wander the streets or the trails and focus on nothing else but how the light was illuminating the scene. Trying to capture that was a fun challenge. Over the years, though, I’ve started to want more from my photography. I think part of that wanting more is a hedonic treadmill thing (i.e., I can’t just enjoy what I have) and part of it is something more substantial: maybe this discontent’s telling me I need to be more establish a purpose behind this art.
Now I just have to figure out what that purpose is…
All photos were taken with my Hasselblad 500 C/M and the Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400 shot at ISO 100–200 (generally overexposed a couple stops). They were developed and scanned by The FIND Lab, and I adjusted white balance (to partially offset the yellowness that comes from significantly overexposing Portra 400), contrast, the tonal curve, and clarity to most of the images in Lightroom.