Sunday, May 10, 2009

One in Ten Million

Well, it's May in Vermont. It's a bitter 43 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and the first of my exams is 4 days away. I've got a lot to learn, and I'm feeling reasonably motivated (a good thing, no?). Exam week never fails to remind me how studious my peers are, and how underdeveloped my study habits are. Still.
Of course, having diligent friends means plenty of alone time, and nothing cures alone time better than distractions. My distractions?
  • Trying to find highlights in music the nation finds appealing
  • Playing along to those pop songs (trivial?)
  • Learning to play the harmonica (to the dismay of any neighbors)
  • Obligatory Rockband rocking
  • Organizing my paperclips
  • Righting my wronged sleeping schedule
  • Shopping Online
...this list knows no bounds. Seriously, there are so many things to think about. Do I really need waterproof boots this summer? Should I invest in a 30mm f/1.4 lens before traveling (that's really really fast and bright)? How do I fit my life into a 5x10 storage unit with 2 other people? How do I pack 10 weeks worth of it into a couple of suitcases? Does the iMac in The Campus office boot up when I access it remotely to get to archives? (doesn't look like it)
...and that's not even counting any self reflection.

Well, I feel pretty confident at the moment. My summer is completely booked. While I won't be meandering around Golden Gate Park looking for pick-up games of Ultimate Frisbee with strange, old men, research does not sound that bad. Does it? There will be travel, family, new people and the woods. Hopefully something will come along and inspire me, and we'll have some eye candy rather than rambling. Is that how I take photographs? Waiting for inspiration? Well, I go look for it, too.

I was speaking with a friend the other day, and she casually voiced an uncommon view, "I don't think of photography as art." I've thought about it a little bit, and, probably for different reasons, I completely agree (to 99.99%).
Of course, there are plenty of measures of a successful photograph. A photograph shows people what was happening, makes them feel a certain way about a subject, and/or has them reassess their perspectives, but what is it really worth?
Think of a staggering percentage: 99.99%
If I look through 10,000 photographs, will I find one worth keeping?
How many of will stop and make me look again? How many can literally take my breath away? Technically sound, Interesting subject matter, Compelling composition... what is it all really worth?

Say I've taken 10,000 photographs this year (this is actually the shutter count at the moment since Sept 2008). I'll bet at the very least 99% of them are out of focus, over/under exposed, and poorly considered. Another .5% are beautiful to look at but meaningless. What's left? My hope: maybe, just maybe, there are a couple, or even just one, in ten thousand, ten million to make them all worthwhile.

I've had computer crashes and hard drives that would rather live on as bricks that make a very steady rhythmic whir and flash their little LEDs than give me my photographs back. It's a strange sensation. I miss the memories and the pretty colors, but do I miss the actual photographs?

Callousness aside, one in ten million is a ridiculous number. Considering one thing to somehow be better than ten thousand others? Seriously elitist? In another light (pun intended?) every moment is worthwhile. As long as I keep my eyes open and keep looking, every 1, every 1/2 every 1/8th, every 1/250th of a second is completely worth considering. If you don't envisage every flash of time, even if you often miss, you'll never recognize the moment when you find it. A million's a lot to go through.

Go ahead, take my breath away. I'll keep taking pictures; I'll keep my eyes open; I'll avoid making recklessly disproportionate allusions to romance in future posts... maybe.

Hope it's warmer wherever you are,

1 comment:

  1. "avoid making recklessly disproportionate allusions to romance"

    How are we related? You hopeless romantic.

    Nice work.