A long, long time ago, sometime in the last decade of the last century an established photographer gave this naive artist a book. She told him the book was about the craft of writing but that it was equally applicable to the craft of photography. “Just substitute the word photographing for the word writing and you’ll get the point.” The book was, “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard. I still have the book on my bookshelf. I have found through the years that writing and photography have a lot in common, not just the craft, but also the needs of the craftsperson are the same.
This morning I was reading, “The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop”, by Stephen Koch and came across this passage in a section called, “Beginnings”:
You don’t have time? Make that time. This is essential. Only you can make and defend the time you need for your work. Nobody is going to give it to you. I know, I know, it’s horribly hard. Writing is outrageously time consuming. Of course, if you have an equally time consuming job or heavy personal responsibilities, you’ll be slowed down. But you must make the time or you will not write at all. Simple as that. And be warned: For every writer, at every level of fame and productivity, making and defending writing time is a life long battle. It’s not just hard now. It will always be hard.
That’s right. It doesn’t get any easier. For me I always carved out time around the edges of my day. When I was really into landscape, I would get up early on the weekends and drive to a wildlife refuge in Jamaica Bay or a nature reserve a few miles from my present home. I still do sometimes. But now with kids, I’ll see when the beautiful light arrives (or maybe just before) and tell the kids, “Hey let’s go for a walk in the woods.” I grab my camera bag and my son Isaac grabs his rock collecting bag and off we go.
With my urban landscape and my Personal Ecologies series I carry my camera and photograph on my way to work or on my way home. I almost always photograph at lunch break and will schedule it so that I can get the best time of day. Sometimes I don’t go out to lunch until 3:30 in the afternoon. I don’t always expect to photograph or to come across something worthy of making a picture. But I am always prepared and have a camera with me. Usually it’s my little Panasonic but when I am feeling extra vigorous I’ll carry my Nikon D700 and a couple of lenses. Yesterday I just happened to have my Nikon when I decided to go for a walk in Riverside Park. I had not been to this section of the park in years. I was down by 72nd Street. I remembered that there was a set of stairs that led to a section which was being renovated. It had the remains of a historic train turning station. Well to my surprise (this is New York after all) the place was renovated, complete with a Cafe. I walked around and was able to create a couple of images in the short time I had carved out for myself in the middle of the day. They are in the running for inclusion in my current project. I could not ask for more than that.