I have been delaying writing about this image. I wasn't even sure I ever would. I was pleased enough with how it turned out, though it appears somewhat artificial, Photoshopped even. There's that, and last week I stumbled across a book by Lisa Mahar-Keplinger titled Grain Elevators. It's a beautiful book filled with beautiful photographs of these cathedral-like structures. Mine pales in comparison.
No reason to write about it, but then I was reading an article titled "Meet the Keatles" by David Gessner in the most recent issue of The Oxford American. He was writing about the similar trajectories followed by the two Johns (no, not Updike and Cheever) - Keats and Lennon. Gessner refereneces a book by Walter Jackson Bate titled The Burden of the Past and the English Poet.
"The problem of how to create original work while looking back at such a rich legacy of things already done, is particularly acute in modern times, exacerbated by our emphasis on being original," Gessner writes. Often the answer for the artist is to retreat into a small fiefdom, a sub-genre, and refine and develop that small plot, tending one particular strand of roses."
I will speak only for myself as a toy camera photographer. Am I cowed by the "rich legacy" of photography's big names? Have I retreated into a "small fiefdom" inhabited by analog film and plastic cameras as a way to combat the overwhelming amount of great photography already accomplished? Is my work only sloppy seconds of been-there-done-that?
Contemplating these questions made me seriously doubt why I work in this endeavor. Fortunately, Gessner quoting Bate, offers "'None of us, as Goethe says, is very 'original" anyway; one gets most of what he attains in his short life from others.'" To which Gesser adds, "Why should literature or music be so different than other human endeavors - sports, say, or carpentry - where we naturally learn from those who came before? Isn't it always through others that we begin to define and become ourselves?"
I would add "photography" to literature and music, then answer that question with a definitive yes. Now I'm going to my local camera store and make a film "buy." Oh, and I ordered a hardback copy of The Burden of the Past..." from Abe Books.