I was reading about the Hayden expedition to Yellowstone in 1871. This expedition is notable in photography because it included the photographer William Henry Jackson. On that same expedition, there was a collection of ornithologist meteorologist biologist botanist and a host of other scientists. The scientist spent a great deal of time gathering and classify all the plants, animals, vegetation, and rocks they could find. That process got me thinking a little bit about photography. I think a lot of us spend time attempting to classify photography, and yet artistic endeavors are a lot about exploration.
A lot of times, we attempt to understand our own creative process with labels on the process. But for many of us the artistic process is not about a label. In many cases, we don’t want the classification. Much of the artistic and creative process is about wandering and trying to understand elements of ourselves, society, and the way we operate between those two spaces. When we talk about our work with others they are often times looking for very simple buckets that the work can fit into so they can quickly understand what we are doing. But depending on where you are with your creative process, you may or may not have a simple bucket for the work to live in. And that’s okay. What is really important is that you spend the time with the chance to explore and understand your work without rushing to put it in a specific bucket.
If you are presenting your work to a review, it might be critical to have that specific language so that somebody can understand what you’re attempting to say through that work. Until that time I would encourage you to allow the exploration process to take hold and really see where your work takes you.
Don’t forget to check out my 2017 Workshops including the Perceptive Photographer Workshop focused on the intersection side of photography.