Moody? Goody! #miscellaneousramblings

The other day I came across Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 500 songs (incidentally I was checking to see whether Blowin’ in the wind was in there – it is!) and I read through the article. An interesting statistic popped up and caught my attention: the list was broken down by decade in terms of when the Top 500 songs were released. To make a long story short, what is generally regarded as the best in rock music was written in the 60’s and 70’s. This may come as no surprise to some and I am certainly one of them. But it got me thinking: Why? What was it about the 60’s and 70’s that was apparently conducive to great music? Was it that the world was moving away from the great wars? Was it the general air of freedom and laissez-faire? Was it the resistance to wars around the world? Was it the oil crisis?

It is obviously beyond the scope of this article to try to answer this question, but I brought it closer to me and to photography and that is what I will try to shed some light on here.

Music is the result of an artist’s endeavor, much like photography. So there is a parallel that one can draw here and ask the inevitable question: When do you shoot your best images?

So I made a trip down memory lane back to my first click and all the way forward to the present time. Conventional wisdom might say that in order for someone to pick up their camera and go shooting, they should be in a good mood to begin with. While there may be some truth to this, it is not always the case. Let me try to explain: if you are one of those “Sunday photographers”, one of those people that babies their camera and takes it “out for a spin” once a week when the weather is sunny and nice, yes, that may be true. If you see photography as a hobby that you have picked up to make you feel good, yes, that’s how it probably works. And you may even be able to get good pictures while at it, but that’s not what we are talking about here.

Let’s assume that you are one of the “daily photographers”, among the ones that carry their camera almost every day, just about everywhere, so that they are always ready when inspiration hits. I happen to be one of those people, yet I go through peaks and troughs every now and then and this has been going on forever, seemingly in random order.

But is it really random? Thinking back I realized that in broad terms, my photography has been better when I have been feeling… well, not so good. Weird? Not really, if you think about it. Photography, all art for that matter, is about telling stories, about getting out what you have inside. If what you have inside is calm, peace and quiet, I guess it is harder to reach deep inside and find the feelings and thoughts and images and stories that will stir emotions. On the other hand, if you are experiencing an internal storm of sorts, every time you click on something, in the back of your mind the storm that’s brewing is giving you the weird angle, the dramatic lighting, the unexpected twist, the loud contrast.

I see image making as a means to show my soul and my mind to the world. At the end of the day, a dark or colorful soul, a complex or troubled mind is infinitely more interesting than a pure white one. Of course, there is no guarantee that there is a clear path from that interesting soul or mind to the images that will emerge. Still, if there is a path, it is more likely to be through this turmoil and there are plenty of examples of “colorful” personalities that created masterpieces in photography.

At the end of the day, if image making is not a “by the way” thing, but rather an integral part of one’s personality and an “extraction tool” of sorts for whatever beautiful, dark, interesting, stirring one has inside, great images will not just happen; they will be the expected and realized outcome.