Then and now

While visiting my family in Florida for Christmas I wound up in Miami to shoot a portrait session at Vizcaya. A few years ago I happened upon Vizcaya in a book on gardens and I knew I wanted to photograph there. In July I was able to go, but artistically I just wasn't present. I just wasn't "seeing" things the way I used to. The last year or two has been a bit of a struggle for this. I so enjoy my freelance commissions but have trouble with the balance between it and my own personal work. I go shooting for "me" so infrequently that when I do, I feel all this pressure to see great things and come up with new stuff for my portfolio. Consequently I don't see a thing.

Years ago I used to take my camera with me everywhere. I never worried about "making art" - somehow it was more about recording and remembering the days. Even casual snapshots wound up getting worked on in the darkroom. I had a blast. This was my life. I think when my camera got bigger I stopped taking it along. And then digital changed things too (but that's another post). Film makes me slow down. I can't see what I just photographed. And I know I could shut off the display on the digital, but I'm too tempted to look. Film nudges me to move on without stopping to second-guess what I shot. It puts the focus on my experience of a place, rather than on whether or not I just took a fabulous picture of it.

This visit to Vizcaya was so different from the one six months ago. I brought digital, yes, but I also brought film. I walked around just looking. I had fun. It was the exact same place but I saw it so differently. The shift has come because I am finally trying to let go of the pressure to create art every time I look through my viewfinder. I am just having plain-old fun again. If something portfolio-worthy turns up, great, but it's not as important as seeing the magic wherever I am and getting it down.

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Visit my Flickr site if you'd like to see a few more photos from the gardens.