Sometimes I wonder what is the result of this personal pondering. I want to simplify and understand what I naturally do in my life and in my photography. How can I share what I have practiced for so long and make it addressable to those friends I teach and others I encounter?
Lately I have been having this dialogue with my new friend Duncan from Oregon. Like kindred cousins sharing and discovering our paths and passions, a lively discourse has ensued. When he was describing his large panoramas, images that he was so excited about printing (but having a hard time justifying), I said, “Follow your excitement! Trust your excitement. For me, my path is my excitement.” This statement can appear to be selfish and indulgent. But I realize that my excitement has been my most successful path. It is a special feeling that I have learned to follow.
The photograph of a bullet hole in a windshield taken somewhere in Montana reminds me of my early attempts at becoming a photographer. In the late 60’s, I wandered around photographing in the American west. In those days, all I was excited about shooting was dead cars. For about four years, no matter where I wandered, that was the most prolific subject I pursued. I did not sell many dead car photos in my early gallery shows, so I worked as a carpenter in those early years. It made no sense.
Years later, my wife Bronwyn used these images to create a slide show (“Metamorphosis”) that in 1989 won the highest award in the audio visual world. I learned through this to trust my excitement, about photography – and whatever else is important to me. I don’t argue or need to justify the excitement that comes up in me. I treasure it, nurture it, and do my best to be with it because this is me at my most alive. This is when I am seeing with the clearest vision. Often without words, I disappear and blend with my subject and all that is around me. This is my goal – to show up fully engaged with life in each moment and to be fed by the excitement that is Life.
Sitting here now, working on the image of old windshield takes my breath away and helps to keep me on the excitement path. So thank you Duncan for helping me with this simple reminder: my excitement is my Path.