For me, the "story behind the image" is just as important to share as the picture itself. And oft times, the story we EXPECT isn't the story we discover. It's a matter of listening without evaluation - simply observing every day life around us.
For me, this is how I want to live creatively, telling stories through another lens...
For me, this is C Todd Creations.
Let me also be clear and keep my ego in check. Do I achieve this level of mindfulness and being present all the time? Hell no! In fact, it's only when I stop trying so hard that I find hope of catching a glimpse of a moment.
It's only when I stop trying to "do" and simply be...
So if you're reading this, you're dying to know what happens next. It's the same reaction when someone asks 'why did the chicken cross the road?' Everyone is curious to know why...
Well, you may be a little disappointed. I don't have a joke or punch line to follow. But, you might enjoy a little story about how I keep my day interesting.
I use a professional photo lab to process most of my prints. (There is a big difference between consumer and professional photo labs - these aren't grocery stores or pharmacies who also happen to have a consumer photo lab in their big box space. These are professional labs that complement my studio and field work. But that's a discussion for another time...or see/read more here!) Sometimes, I use a national lab for specific fulfillment needs but for the most part, I prefer using a local pro lab when possible. In these cases, I "drop of my film" and a couple days later, pick up my prints.
Of course, there is no film these days (usually...)! So, submitting a print order is done online - just like most of our modern commerce. We sometimes forget, there are people involved along the way, even in e-commerce! Real humans, real people! I was reminded of this recently...
When placing online lab orders, there is a spot for comments. This is useful if there are specific requests from the photographer, which isn't usually necessary... But, when it DOES master artistically or creatively, it's absolutely essential to have this option! You know, back to that "professional photo lab" thing! ;)
But, for the most part, my comments are blank because most of my portrait work thus far is pretty straightforward, lighting and color wise.
This felt boring...another boring step in a boring part of the creative process! So one day, I decided to have some fun. I wrote, "Why did the photographer cross the road?" in the comments section, just for fun.
Tail of the DragonA photo from our recent vacation to Fontana Lake, NC. I have the Tail of the Dragon on my bucket list - though I'm not sure if I explicitly stated "on my motorcycle!" After driving the 300 turns in this 11 mile stretch of mountain rode, I think I'm happy enough to say I've done it...even if by car, respecting the 15mph speed signs along the way! http://tailofthedragon.com/details/
And kinda forgot about it, quite honestly.
It was a couple days before I made it in for my prints. As I was handed the envelope with my prints, the clerk said, "The photographer crossed the road to pick up his prints!" - and smiled, waiting for my response!
I was startled - mainly because I had NO idea what he was talking about, having forgotten my secret note from the online order! Before my mind went (completely...) to 'this guy is a nutcase!,' I remembered my question! There was an awkward pause on my part...then I burst out laughing! It was a great answer, and he made be laugh!
Of course, I was glad he had an answer, because I didn't! I had just thrown the question out with no punchline, thinking "oh, these things never really get read anyway..."
Since then, every order has a one-liner or joke in the comments section. And even with that, I can sometimes fall into a routine - this is just a step in my workflow. Then I remember, it's a connection I have with a real person, who knows my name, who listens to my jokes - and sometimes even laughs. It's someone who sees ALL of my studio work - something I don't think my fiancé can claim! And, I picked this lab because it is a professional photo lab. So, they are a part of my professional and creative "team" - without their expertise, I couldn't do what I do.
On a professional level, I value my colleagues' expertise. On a personal level, the rapport we've built brings me joy - and some laughs! And all of this reminds me to look for ways to "be" in the moment, to connect with others, to be open to possibilities.
PS: The joke I found for today's order was "If you saw a drowning person and you were to choose between saving him or capturing the moment, what aperture will you use?"
I found this draft from last September that I never posted. So, here it is...
This past week, a Facebook friend posted a poem I've heard often around my church, Broadway UMC. The poem resonates with those of us whose mission is "to be a multi-cultural Christian community that, in its ministry, seeks, welcomes and values all people." Much like our National Anthem, we regularly say this out loud to reaffirm our mission. Less like the National Anthem, we do this weekly at service so it almost becomes part of our subconcious through hearing, saying, listening and seeing it over and over.
If we go through this spiritual ritual enough, I believe that old saying (with some creative license) is true:
The full poem can be found online (Anthem, Leonard Cohen), but the lines that strike me the most are:
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
A friend was telling a story the other day about living in community. He described how often friendship is about being the salt that brings out the best in those around you.
That idea has stuck in my mind since then, particularly as I've been working in the studio with a couple projects. I've been wayfaring with my passion for photography, discovering my "portrait voice." I'm realizing one of the aspects of this creative process that I'm really excited about is the post-production process. It's the fine-tuning of the image, retouching gently to bring about the best in the original photograph - and in the case of portraits, it's bringing out the best in the people captured by my lens. It's exactly what my friend was talking about in his story. Through my photography and portrait work, I'm being the salt that brings out the best in those around me.
I had one of those "feel good" experiences this week along these lines. I'm learning the art and science of post-production work, adding tips and tricks to my toolkit as I continue to discover how to apply this technique. This week, I was working on a portrait of an elderly couple. She is an angel in our community, and so I've been excited to blend some of my salt into the image. A little spot healing here, a little brightening of the eyes there... I even used my tools to make a bandaid disappear. It was holding his eyeglasses together. The finished product made me smile with pride. I can sometimes be my own worst critic. It felt good to see how my salt brought out the best of this couple. :-)
I know I love doing this creative work. Now, I have a better idea of why... I get to be salt in my community, brining out the best in those around me...
Christmas Wolff at BroadwayChristmas Wolff at Broadway
#photographyisart #ctoddcreations #ctodddifferently #livingcreatively #tellingstoriesthruanotherlens #tellingstories #anotherlens #bumc @ctoddcreations @broadwayumc @wolff_von_rocker @Von.Roos.16
I took this on Christmas Eve, from the angel loft at Broadway UMC, where I find both spiritual community as well as space to host my office and studio. I love capturing moments in and around the church including the many hosted community businesses and organizations who call this space "home."
Wolff is our intern organist. His quiet demeanor is thrust off whenever his body and spirit connect with the keys and pedals of the amazing pipe organ at Broadway. He is a delight to hear. I often get to hear the far off sounds of his practicing - one of the many beneficial smells and bells around here!
I've been picking up a theme in my thinking and emotions as I work through some experimentation around my photography.
In the past and to some extent still today, I use photography as a way to extend my role as observer or bystander. At parties, I often feel that way. In large groups or places like bars or clubs, I am the quiet chameleon who sits on the sidelines and watches those on set.
As such, much of my photography was essentially scribing the events in front of me. It's a very technical, photojournalistic and dare I say masculine and left-brained. It's served me well and will continue to play a role in my passion. When it comes to the macro view of a butterfly, or the way a petal serves as an opaque multi-colored filter to sunlight. What a natural wonder to be able to witness from a distance, and what an honor to be allowed to capture its simple beauty on film. So, this isn't about right or wrong, better or worse.
This is about another way to look at things as well - in addition to - as another tool in my tool box.
Instead of just observing or scribing what is going on, I feel a "yang" pull towards immersing myself in the moment as an artist, allowing me to experience and feel what is going on. That also opens me up to the possibility of not just being an artist, but being a creator who borrows, shifts, adds to, takes away, and manipulates the moment into a new, unique creation - but one that is blended with my experiences, perceptions, feelings, hurts, joys, regrets, sorrows, accomplishments, celebrations, memories...my soul.
I want to expand my sphere of influence and creativity, so I'm expanding or shifting perspectives, moving from "observer-scribe" to "artist-creator."
How do I do that? What does an "artist-creator" do?
Well, I am learning best by figuring out what NOT to do, or what is no longer service me well - and then building from that point, I define what actions should better meet my needs and intentions. Then I experiment and test them out - adjust or abandon - until I'm satisfied with the end point.
So, the first question is - What caused me to notice I was shooting as an observer, at least mostly when it came to people (including events or performances)?
That's what's not working for me as much any more. It continues to have a purpose in my toolbox, but I want to learn something different.
While i have a good eye to frame a shot, especially with buildings, nature scenes or even macro photography, when it comes to PEOPLE, i rarely take time to:
So, these are my five building blocks.
Or, as Tony Corbell shared with us,
1. BE PROFICIENT
2. BE IN CONTROL
3. SLOW DOWN
So, I'm building steps into the process to force me to slow down, be more present, and be more mindful.
Now, I'm off to put this to a test. Mass Avenue - Experimental Photo Shoot (AC Focus)