We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
There was a time when those interested would spend hours many times over multiple viewing visits to derive meaning and understanding, or at least attempt to, from a photograph. Photographs were a much rarer thing less than a generation ago requiring a devotion of time to not only capture, but many times, hours possibly days in the dark room to produce a final image that met the creator’s original intent. Many may be completely unaware but this practice still takes place today by those who make such an endeavor part of the personal creation process.
Today tools and techniques have changed. The darkroom has been replaced by the digital substitute. Chemical replaced by ink-sets. These changes have not made personal creative photography inherently simpler. It has though made it available to many more. This has taken what once was a practice perfected by “masters” and relinquished it anyone wishing to refer to themselves as a master. At the risk of complete digression I must save that debate for another day. The point is, there are still those who believe time is not wasted in personal creative expression regardless of the amount of time involved. But then there are those, many I’m afraid, that spend as little time as possible in personal expression so to have more time to update Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram, with whatever they have. With them time is of the essence and attention is paramount. Today getting attention or the so called “fifteen minutes of fame” requires no great task. Many time the exact opposite is true. Attention is given to the immediate, the ease of production, the time saving, all in pursuit of nothing more than manufactured notoriety of fame and acceptance.
Today everyone is a master albeit lacking a consummate level of mastery. They too can produce technically great images. Sometimes with nothing more than a smartphone. To them, a technically good image is really all that matters. It is sad that many may truly believe that technically good is good enough. But there is still a question that seems to elude those in quest of this technically proficient photograph as to, good enough for what? Obviously in today’s society good enough powers the world. It surely powers places like social media. Where millions upon millions of people place their pictures then set back and wait. Wait for the ubiquitous, “like”. “Aha, I knew people would like it.” And then as fast as the like button is pushed those same people are off to like the next butterfly that flutters by.
Do so many things exists in today’s world that none seem more special than any others? Do we go through our days in search of something that can occupy our attention for a second or two because we know of nothing else better to do with our time? Do we relinquish ourselves to, “good enough” because better is just too hard? Is life so unappealing that we will accept anything as long as it is something? Is good enough all that we strive for?
Time is not fleeting. Time is the present. This second, minute, hour, will not come back for you to make better choices. The best we can hope for is a life lived with as few regrets as possible. To take a chance, is to live. To make mistakes is to learn. To fail is to be given a chance to improve.
In today’s world where good enough is met with complacent acceptance, the challenges are quite different from those 100, 50, even 25 years ago. Today the challenge is to make a powerful photographic statement that is visible amidst the umpteen gazillion photographs that aren’t. This by its very nature requires something more than, good enough.