I had been in need of a creative challenge. That uneasy feeling of wanting to do something different, to push past my comfort zone had been gnawing at me for months. Yet, I was not addressing that hunger as I was making so many other things in my life the priority.
Yes, I work from home, which would make it seem that I have ample time to be creative. I wish that were the case.
The reality of being self-employed is that much of the day is taken up with responsibilities that would be relegated to others in a “real job”. So, I am left to wear many hats, often simultaneously. There are some days that leave me thinking that juggling feral cats would be easier.
Yet despite how productive a day I might have had, I would often end the day feeling frustrated and angry with myself for not having made the time to make photographs. Repeat this over several days and weeks and I not only felt grumpy and depressed, but my self-esteem would take a swan dive into an empty pool.
There is no resemblance between me and the life of the party. I’d be left being the guy in the corner perusing the vinyl and consuming inordinate amounts of chips and guacamole.
One day I realized that regardless of how hectic my schedule was, I was always making time to walk the dogs. I’d spend at least an hour each day taking them around the neighborhood. So, why not take my camera with me?
I had to get over the fact that I would not find the usual subject matter that inspires so much of street photography. My neighborhood doesn’t include a sea of people walking up and down the street. Besides a few other dog walkers or joggers, I am not seeing many people outside, especially early in the morning.
At first this was frustrating, but I quickly discovered that this was the kind of challenge I’d been desiring. Could I make interesting photographs in my own community, especially following the same routes day after day? Could I improve my way of seeing by focusing on the all-too familiar, rather than hunting for the unusual and unexpected?
So, that what II did. Using small mirrorless cameras such as the Fujifilm x100s, Samsung NX Mini or recently, the Samsung NX3000, I have walked my dogs following the same route I’ve been walking them for years, while looking for photographs.
I’ve walked on streets that were so familiar that at first, I would come home without a single exposure having been made. But as the weeks past, I began to discover things that had never registered before. As I made images, I became more and more excited about what I would discover each day.
Sometimes, it was the quality of the light that would reveal the world in a completely different way. On other days, something would just click in my head and I would see something as if for the first time. This morning, I started looking down at my feet and saw things that surprised me, but had been around the entire time.
As I have gathered the images that I’ve produced over the past several months, I see to my surprise that I’m accumulating an interesting body of work. Some images are not special or unique, but others definitely reflect a different way of seeing for me. I look at some of those photographs and recognize that a year ago, I would never have thought to make them.
The photographs which are largely in color are in some ways very different from my usual street photography, but in some ways they are still very much tied to the photographer I’ve been over the past several years. Yet, I’m doing something very different and it’s gratifying.
While reviewing the images over the past several days, I can see that I am challenging myself in just the way that I’ve been desiring. So, even if I don’t have any other opportunity to photograph during the day or the week I am satisfying that craving I have to not only photograph, but to improve and push beyond my limits.
It’s gratifying. It keeps the dogs happy. And I have less of a desire to hog all the guac.
To view more of the images from this series visit my Tumblr site.