Thursday, July 22, 2010

Continental drift

I'm now well into my second week of vacation on the East Coast. It's been a whirlwind tour. First we visited with Tab's extended family, then my dad's extended family, then my mom's extended family, and now I'm in Cape Cod with Tab's brothers and sisters. Over the past week and a half I've had conversations with roughly 70 different relatives, most of whom I see only once a year.

Today I had the realization that not one of those people has asked me about my photography. No How's your shooting going? Any shows coming up? What projects are you working on? Nope. Nothing. No interest.

I'm not complaining about this, just making an observation.

It might be different if I was a working pro. Then people could ask me about my job. How's work? Any interesting clients? Business trip anecdotes? That's a frame of reference that most people can relate to, even if they don't necessarily care about photography. Career chit chat.

But a guy devoting his creative life to art photography? With no immediate recognition or reward? No one has the foggiest clue how to approach that. They know I carry a camera. On some level they know I'm involved in that life, consumed even. But my daily routine and activities are beyond comprehension, beyond curiosity. I may as well be painting rocks in the driveway or tossing grass seed from an overpass. Just as productive. What's there to talk about?

I suspect this is why some folks eventually move to the West Coast.

15 comments:

Marilyn Andrews said...

Blake - Don't feel bad that no one asked you about your photography. No one asked me about my sculpture either.

greenteagallery said...

Very interesting observation. Had you been visiting anyone in Japan you would have received tons of questions about what you do and your photography

Jin said...

Why do you suppose this is? I've never lived on the East coast so I have no idea. I assume that NYC is the big exception... really depends on your circle of acquaintances too though.

Patrick said...

The only thing worse is when they do ask you but don't really care to know.

Anonymous said...

I find that people find creativity quite scary, and often feel they are being judged because they aren't in their view, creative, so the subject gets carefully stepped round. You could have brought the subject up i guess, and you might have found a photo enthusiast or two maybe? But sometimes trying to explain what you are doing to someone who is asking out of polite interest is harder than not talking about it at all. .
Jon

Richard said...

You are not alone - I've found that family almost never ask about my photography other than a couple of perfunctory 'how's it going?' sort of questions. None of them are in creative fields and most just do not get it. All they know is they like my b&w family snapshots even though they are a bit quirky for their taste.

g said...

So how is your photography going?

Justin Sainsbury said...

I know the feeling- In my more bored moments I play the game see how quickly my/my wifes family can turn a photo 'conversation' back to 'how I could make some money making pretty greetings cards of seaside scenes'. Mostly, this happens in about 20 seconds.

Stan B. said...

I'm always rather amused by the instantaneous glaze that's guaranteed to beset anyone errant enough to ask THE question. The very noticeable and uncomfortable shift of the body language: eyes dart about, the neck juts out and the head turns away gasping for breath and relief. A most pronounced and uncomfortable lull that once initiated cannot be mercifully rescinded- probably akin to what I look like when the subject turns to football every winter.

Blake Andrews said...

Thanks for asking, G.

As usual I have been shooting a ton. I am so backlogged that I now have a four month gap between shooting a scene and considering the resulting photos. My goal is to increase that gap to 12 months. I think it takes at least a year to fully understand anything that has happened. Usually more like 25 years.

The counter argument is that sometimes the best photos come about through lack of understanding.

g said...

I'm usually about six months behind myself, depending on the project. I think it's a good thing to have some time between taking a picture and making editorial decisions about it. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing some of your Paris and London pics.

SR said...

I keep trying to remind my self that photography is a visual experience and except for the photographic community itself, and maybe a few investors, not many would find it interesting to talk about with any level of passion.....east,west, north, or south.... family included....

Blake Andrews said...

I don't really expect non-photographers to care about photography. The post was more about the place of nontraditional lives in the context of mainstream society. And I don't mean to pretend it's paradise on the West Coast. I don't get asked any more about my photography in Oregon than in Maine. But I do think on the West Coast there is a little more room for nontraditional pursuits to be, if not appreciated, at least accepted as possibilities.

Jin said...

My backlog has just reached a year, and it's driving me nuts, but you're right about perspective - I find that it's easier to weed out the mediocre stuff that I had a more emotional attachment to at the time. I just hope it doesn't get too much longer than a year - then I start having visions of the digital version of opening a closet with 10K rolls of undeveloped film when I'm dead...

wolf said...

it doesn't matter if people ask or don't ask, my family asks but they don't respond to my best work anyway, nor do I like having conversations about it in english, because photography is the language, none of my family speaks it, they barely speak kodak moment. But there's no doubt they recognize my passion and are supportive of that, if not envious. But they certainly don't appreciate that I am several years behind in getting them their kodak moments of the kids growing up!