Ever feel discouraged that you’re taking the same picture over and over again?
I try to take at least one picture a day.
It’s not a planned thing, no Instagram challenge where you’ll see me tagging images “x/365” or apologizing because yesterday was busy or whatever. I’m not trying to create Art or prove a Point about creativity, the pictures are candids as often as they’re Lego displays as often as they’re a moment that caught my eye. If anything, this has become a mental health check during the past two years of craziness. Taking a picture means I’m doing OK. Not taking a picture means either I was insanely busy (which happens) or I was so wrapped up in my head that Something is clearly Amiss.
But I’m starting to wonder.
The picture here is one I took today at a cafe I frequent. I’m pretty pleased with it, it’s got a nice feel and mood for me. But I took one very similar to it a couple days before because I was there having coffee, sitting at the same table and someone was sitting there and, lo.
Not exactly the same. Different time, different person, they were sitting in a different stool. But they were hunched over their books and their computers and wrapped up in their work and I shot it in black and white and…
I believe there’s value in taking the same picture over and over again. It’s how you learn what all the buttons and settings on your camera or flash do. It’s how you figure out that this is almost the right moment and this is the best moment. It’s how you can chart your life, selfie after selfie. It’s how you can record a neighborhood. Hell, I love the movie Smoke specifically for the scene with the photo albums, year after year of the “same” photo that changes over time. That’s absolutely beautiful.
But seeing the similarity across the span of days bugs me because I get frustrated when I feel like I’m just seeing the “same” photo again and again. The photographer who takes pictures of models and motorcycles almost all the time. The trend in boudoir that any woman in lingerie on a red satin cloth is sexy. It’s a naked woman in a forest. But this time, she’s blonde.
So it’s not good to bore yourself with your own work.
It’s time to train my eye away from this particular tendency. Refocus, in more ways than one. Either go to new places (which would probably be good too) or take in a different view, look for something different than profiles and people.
Is it weird to see this as a challenge? Is it weird to find it kind of exciting?