Sometimes I sit back and wonder- "Why do I always do things the hard way?" Why use film, why use a fully manual camera that weighs a million pounds, why use a slow lens, why spend so much money on darkroom chemistry, why order only the best, warmest toned, gorgeous hard to find photo paper, why cut my own matts and frames? When so many other photographers out there are doing the exact opposite, why is it so important for me to stay true to my Fine Art roots?
I think and think and think. And then I realize- this is not a difficult question.
I am an artist. I am inspired by the tactile nature of my medium, by the mystery of my camera, the magic that can only be found through my lens. If I took all these 'old fashioned' methods away, I would be sacrificing my style. And as an artist, style is a crucial companion.
I've been reading Diane Arbus' biography (see here), and am continually inspired by her explanations of photography. Her thoughts on technique always help me refocus my own creative work. Whether I'm making emotional portraits of our beloved animal companions, or instant Polaroid landscapes, or stories of my home town- I keep coming back to Arbus' words:
“What moves me about...what's called technique...is that it comes from some mysterious deep place. I mean it can have something to do with the paper and the developer and all that stuff, but it comes mostly from some very deep choices somebody has made that take a long time and keep haunting them.”- Diane Arbus
As an artist, working with animals is incredibly inspiring and emotional. I often find myself getting a little misty-eyed when hearing of a client's love for their dog. It is a beautiful and mysterious thing. Just like traditional photography, just like an old manual clunky camera, just like the darkroom. And that synchronicity always reminds me that sometimes a little extra work makes all the difference.