I mentioned yesterday that one of the goals of this project was to force me to get into a rhythm of shooting (and, more broadly speaking, being actively creative) every day. Steven Pressfield, Natalie Goldberg, Ernest Hemingway, and countless other creatives have emphasized the importance of consistently doing the work. Elle and I recently re-watched Ed Sheeran’s Songwriter, an intimate documentary of the development of his Divide album. While talking with kids from his high school, he discusses that idea through the analogy of turning on the water in an old house.
“I kind of view songwriting as a dirty tap in an old house, cause you switch on the dirty tap and it spits out shit water for about 10 minutes and it’s just mud and grit and just all sorts of messiness coming out. Then it starts flowing clean water, and then little bits of grit still come out, but after a while it’s just clean.”Ed Sheeran
As somebody who partakes in creative activities only as a hobby, I’m particularly susceptible to getting discouraged with the mud and the grit. Well, maybe it’s not that I’m particularly susceptible to the feeling of discouragement…maybe it’s more that I’m particularly susceptible to letting that discouragement take roots in me and convince me to turn off the tap. I don’t have to create on a daily basis, so I always have an out when things get tough.
For at least these 30 days, I’m committing to carrying my camera with me wherever I go and continuously engage in that creative process. I want to get some clean water flowing, even if it comes with a lot of mud and grit. Today’s photograph, which was shot with a deliberately slow shutter speed while driving my car (as an actuary who prices car insurance, I do not endorse this behavior), is an example of this forced flowing. It was a gloomy, overcast day and I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. But I recalled an anecdote about Daido Moriyama shooting out the car window and thought I’d give it a shot.
Moriyama is famous for his “snapshot style”. He shoots, shoots, shoots. Author Takeshi Nakamoto describes his process while on a photo walk with Moriyama.
“Over and over again, Moriyama pauses in his tracks and just stands there, pressing the shutter button of his camera. Looking round, continually alert, he points the lens towards whatever catches his interest. Occasionally, he holds his camera at chest height, and just presses the shutter button, keeping it pressed down, taking one shot after another in quick succession, without bothering to look into the viewfinder. Catching sight of an alleyway off the street a little way ahead, he heads straight towards it at a run, as if already certain of what he’ll find there. I know that it’s not uncommon for him to get through a whole roll of film, 36 shots, in less than one hundred metres. And today, even before we’ve got halfway along the street, he’s had to stop for a few seconds to change his film several times.”Takeshi Nakamoto, How I Take Photographs
In another section of the same book, when Nakamoto is describing Moriyama shooting out of the car window (passenger side…Moriyama is wiser than me), Nakamoto uses the term “machine gun” to describe Moriyama’s busy camera. I can only imagine that Moriyama’s continuous, almost frantic, approach to photographing is intended to keep the clean water flowing.