George Panagakos Photography

The Ones I Come Back To

I imagine it is the same with many of us. Photographers, that is. I make a photograph. I look at it. I may just skim through the frames, looking for “The One”. I don’t find it. I move on.

Time passes, I look at it again. It strikes me. “Can it be the same photograph I saw before? How? Why didn’t I see it? By what criteria am I judging this time. By what did I judge six months ago?”

It is baffling. I am, often times, not a good judge of my own work. I am too attached to it. Many of us are too attached to our own work, I think. But there’s a conundrum in my psyche. On the one hand, it may be insecurity that tells me that my stuff sucks. On the other hand, it’s as though like my work is a part of me, no less than an eye or a limb.

Another conundrum lies in that I have spoken of attachment on this blog before; about how necessary it is to undertake the task of purging it. Certainly, a near-impossible task except for the most holy of people. For the rest of us, the process of incremental advancement on that path will have to suffice.

Here is a photograph of a little boy who had his face painted as a tiger at a sort of a block party the night before, in a little village in Greece last summer. His demeanor as I was photographing him was one of total connection, of “OK, here I am. I am yours. Make my photograph. Make a hundred . . . make a thousand.” But he never said a word. Silence. It was almost spiritual.

Until he said: “How many pictures are you gonna take?”

Then we were done.

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3 responses

  1. Jacob Gorny

    I personally enjoy playing with the fact that I am very much a structuralist in how I view the world, and that many times the same picture will be rebuilt in my psyche in a number of different ways.

    To me, it is a matter of play with shock and vocabulary – one of the themes I have been observing recently and hope to start visually collecting is a project that I have dubbed ‘Accidental Geometry’ – where in walking down a street I will look up and see entirely unintended geometric alignments – accidental, fragile, situational perfection.

    The existence of these things gives me hope – both in the world and in myself – that there are accidental alliances of order and beauty provided for our benefit if we are willing to pay attention. A small price to pay in order to banish despair.

    June 2, 2010 at 10:31 am

  2. Ian

    And isn’t it the truth? We only need one. The right one. Back in the days when people would deliver a tray of 80 slides, each one a variation on the other, it was the art director’s role to choose one exposure. The subtleties were, well…. subtle. I hated editing that kind of a shoot. I asked the photographer to bring me only his choices. The next time he did a job with me, he came back with the same box with a tray inside. He racked it up. Turned it on. Focused. I thought he nailed it. And I waited for the next slide. It never came. It wasn’t there. And I asked, “Is that it?” He said, “That is the right one.” I smiled, “We ran it.”

    May 29, 2010 at 7:37 am

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