Jul 23, 2013I’ve lost my Photo-Mojo

black and white photgraph of Gary Allman. www.breakfastinamerica.ne
Waiting and Watching. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Yesterday someone marked the above picture as a favorite. Not a big deal, people like and favorite my pictures all the time. Except. Except this isn’t the sort of picture I’d expect to be liked. It’s dark, somber. Moody even.

It made me stop and think. I pulled up the picture, which I took in June 2011, to re-examine it. That was when I realized that somehow over the past couple of years I’ve lost my photo-mojo. I missed the memo.

I’ve slipped into a trance of formulaic non-challenging picture taking. The darks and lights are gone at the expense of a plain average picture. I’ve become a mediocre photojournalist at best.

The joke is most definitely on me.

A couple of years ago I thought I might have a go at taking pictures for money. I did the research, I checked what the local photographers were doing. Generally, there was nothing particularly outstanding. Then I realized what the buying public actually wanted. It was truly awful (in my opinion). Twee pictures that are either faded to look like a seventies print, or colorized, or over processed to make the people in them look plastic or just as bad, photographs taken at jaunty angles – I suspect to cover the photographers’ inability to take a straight, decently framed picture. It was all far too artificial.

America is BIG on artifice. You only have to look at how the buildings are fronted with a frosting of false towers, embellishments, and facings. All to hide the plain wooden or metal stud construction building that lurks behind. People actually seem to be impressed by this particular brand of emperor’s clothes.

Anyway, I couldn’t do it. No-way José. So I quietly shelved that plan, I wasn’t selling my photographic soul to the Devil of Artifice. I wanted to go my own way. So what happened? What I saw today is that I’ve slowly slipped into the safe ground of the dull and boring. I don’t take a lot of time over my pictures anymore – they’re typically set pieces, that I’d call snapshots, not even inspired snapshots. I do what I have to do to illustrate our blogs and meet the needs of the occasional commercial small product shoots I do. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing overtly wrong with the pictures I’ve been taking. The quality is good, but the inspiration and artistry are absent.

Now the memo has finally arrived. So, do I want to just carry on taking the pictures I am? Or should I embark on an adventure to rediscover that ol’ photo-mojo?

Copyright © 2013 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

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