Ask any good artist and they will tell you how important it is to iterate. Like lifting weights to build muscle, iterating for artists builds an art-muscle. Artists must iterate to develop their taste in art and their skill in performing the art. More importantly, iterating helps distill an idea into something elegant.
I continue to sharpen the focus of my portrait project. I want to iterate on this idea and I am committed to it. To do this I approach my friends, family, and acquaintances for their time to sit for me. Photographing people you already know and like makes better photos; your images become deeper than the veneer of skin. Guy Tal talks about this in his blog post The Healing Landscape:
"Most images presented as photographs of the natural landscape are, in fact, not made in the natural landscape. Rather, they are made at the edge of it, where it meets the artifice of the human-made landscape—from roads and well-used trails, within easy reach of comforts and services—the edge delineating us from it: the wild. Such images portray the appearance of the landscape — its veneer, its skin — same as the portrait of a person’s face made by one who possesses no deep familiarity with that person."
The response from the people I approach is mixed. Some readily accept while others hesitate. Some messages get lost entirely in the confusion of social media. I will have better success if I run into more people in real life so I can make a bid for their time. Unfortunately paths only cross virtually in a fleeting comment thread on the News Feed. The News Feed is the new edge of natural landscape using Guy Tal’s words.
I approach models to fill the gaps in my time and to iterate more. We may not have a personal connection but I can still practice the medium. I try to find up-and-coming models who might want to add my project to their portfolio; we both get practice and it only costs us our time. Since I live in Lakeland which isn’t exactly drowning in creatives I have to travel to Tampa or Orlando. This limits me to weekends and time becomes a bottle-neck quickly.
Moreover, unpaid models typically reschedule, cancel or just not show up. A guaranteed shoot comes at an additional cost. I may have to travel somewhere to meet the model and I will have to pay their hourly rates. I will willingly pay a model when my idea is solid and when I can depend firmly on my skills. This is just not a cost I can bear right now while I am still iterating.
More people will be willing to work with me when I can show more consistent and developed skill, but I can’t develop my skill unless I have worked with more people. Catch 22. Where does this leave me but in the mercy of patience? I have a few shoots scheduled for the next several weekends. I expect a number of them to get cancelled or rescheduled.
I just have to keep at it. Perhaps I should take this time to make portraits of landscapes.
"…portraits of the natural landscape offer a glimpse into the depth and drama of its story, and arouse instinctive notions from far recesses of our brains — those places that remain wild and that are often consciously suppressed to accommodate demanding careers and urban lifestyles." via Guy Tal