Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vienna Layover

I took my camera on a walk last week and a great photo almost fell into my lap. The Bijou Theatre downtown had posted some reviews in the window, and one showed a drawing of a pair of hands holding an object. I tend to notice hands so it caught my eye, and just as I was standing there pondering this picture of hands, a worker inside began retaping some of review pages to the window. I could only see her hands around the edges of the movie bills. Boom, there was the photo: real hands reaching around to touch illustrated hands in a Sistine Chapel pose. OK, I admit it was sort of cheesy but it had potential. The problem was the real hands were moving quickly. I had to wait for them to get in proper position.

So there I was, camera at the eye, waiting for what seemed like several minutes, when behind me I heard a voice say, "Patience." I turned around to see who was talking to me. A camera buff? A friend? No, it was a couple who hadn't even noticed me. The man was pointing to one of the reviews for a film called The Patience Stone. Maybe he said "Stone" too. In any case I'd only keyed on the first word. It caused me to look up just long enough for the worker to disappear. I'd missed the shot but I had something to think about.

Patience. A good lesson in photography and life. Maybe a better way to express it is Timing. Not necessarily Decisive Moment timing, although that is sometimes useful. But timing in the sense that everything has its place in the order of things. The seasons, the lunar cycle, life's stages. Sorry to get all New-Agey here but it's true. Timing matters.

In the Northern hemisphere this is harvest season. We spent a few hours last weekend at a local farm, taking a rickety hayride under the freeway and plucking big orange pumpkins from the ground in the far field. The week before that it was pinot grapes, helping the vintner next door haul in the summer's harvest. Mid-October we were in the foothills near Oakridge digging up chanterelles from the forest duff. In early October it was pears from the sideyard tree.

All these things are out there just waiting to be plucked, but you can't rush any of them. They'll come when they will and not a moment sooner. Patience.

In the midst of all this activity this I bought new shoes. I'd been wearing the old ones for 2 years and they were shot. The cashier's name tag caught me by surprise. "Your name's Harvest?" I asked. "That's a cool name." I'd never met anyone named Harvest. He glance at me with a sort of sheepish eye contact like he'd been through this routine before and maybe it hadn't always ended happily, then explained his birthday was around this time of year. Makes sense, I said. My old shoes looked incredibly old and dirty held near the new ones.

As far as I can tell, most of the photo world operates outside of any season. Sure, there are the annual reviews and conferences which happen at roughly the same time each year, and the Fall arts season, and maybe slightly more books are published in autumn in hopes of making the year-end lists. But the making, printing, selling, and general business of photographs has no specific connection to time. It's always harvest season, just as it's always planting season. Any time at all is a good time to fertilize, edit, gripe, and position. Any day online is the same at the last one. It's a world that doesn't require much patience.

I guess I know this equation but it still leaves me anxious. I generally have a feeling hanging over my head that I should be submitting somewhere or making a book or revamping the site or posting to this blog or just doing something or other to keep my photo life moving forward. And it's a feeling that's there every day year round. It's not like picking pinot grapes. It doesn't go away the next day when all the grapes are picked or the cashier is born. Patience only causes it to fester.

When that feeling seems overwhelming, I take my camera on a walk.


CJ said...

Great read. Now go for a walk.

Anonymous said...