As photographers, what do we do between big projects? In between thinking about something else? To keep our mind’s eye active and a state to receive what the world is showing us? According to Minor White’s “The Camera Mind and Eye”, the ability to stay sensitive and vigilant with camera in hand produces something interesting, eventually, something subconsciously turbulent.
If [the photographer] were to walk a block in a state of sensitized sympathy to everything to be seen, he would be exhausted before the block was up and out of film long before that. Perhaps the blank state of mind can be likened to a pot of water almost at the boiling point. A little more heat—an image seen—and the surface breaks into turbulence. Possibly the creative work of the photographer consists in part of putting himself into this state of mind. Reaching it, at any rate, is not automatic. It can be aided by always using one’s camera for serious work so that the association of the camera in one’s hands always leads to taking pictures.
Carrying a small digital or 35mm camera is conducive to achieving this state of mind. Whenever I came back to Hickory I tried hard to keep one on me at all times to spark something whenever I wasn’t out on more serious photographing or onto a place where I knew what I wanted. It kept me open and sensitive.
Over the years this practice became more serious to me. I waited a while when I got the film or files back, scanned a few frames, edited them, and kept them hanging around on hard drives. But what does this work mean? Each picture seemed like a sentence out of longer narrative, a separate thought that somehow accompanied some larger feeling about whatever was going on in my life. Whenever I reached White’s boiling point, the pictures became curtailed stories and occasional bits of prose.
I put these bits into a new zine called “Occasional Prose” and it features small moments I’ve found over a couple years. Staying vigilant, approaching boiling temperatures.