Image copyright by Jim Graham. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Sometimes being out for a "scroll" in cyberspace leads to some truly fun discoveries. "Fun" is one of those words too often lost in business today. It's buried underneath the barrage of stress from dozens of things we all worry about. Yet, we're all responsible for finding the balance between productivity, success, and fun without stress dragging us down.
Meet Jim Graham, who many of you probably know already. He posted the image above on July 4 on his Facebook page with the comment:
"I’ve often thought this is one of my best images. Done on Nantucket probably 13 years ago."
Within minutes of seeing this image I called Jim. We spent the next hour sharing stories about artists we both know and this crazy industry we love dearly. In the process I asked for permission to share this image on Throwback Thursday, but with a unique purpose in mind. And Jim offered to share a little of the backstory below.
"At Rest" - Made 16 November 2009
I’d been traveling to Nantucket since 1974. In this case I’d gone on island for the first time during the fall. It was a very opportune choice as instead of green there was color everywhere. I’d gone out to Madaket in hopes of catching a sunset. As the season was really over, most of the boats had been hauled in. I was left with only a few in the water leading me to a minimalistic approach thinking pure composition and color.
I was also reminded of the Nantucket painter Robert Stark, Jr. Many times he painted his nautical scenes with dark blue skies and a red unfurled sail. The image that presented itself was the opposite in every way.
Revisiting work over the years offers so many opportunities. New applications have added editing advantages that simply weren’t there when the original image was made. You simply don’t know what you’ll discover. Additionally, as I print my work, both printers, inks, and papers have evolved. All allow both the image and my creative instincts to continually evolve.
Nikon D3X, Nikkor 70-200mm
1/160 @ F/2.8 200 ISO
Printed in 3 sizes, in editions of 25 on Moab Somerset Museum Rag
Here's my point. I share an image with a backstory every Thursday. In part, it's because searching for old photographs reminds me of the value of what we do as an industry. The memories that old images bring back recharge my battery, put a smile on my face, and lift my spirit a little higher.
But the other reason behind sharing old photographs is to remind you to head out on your own safari to hunt for old images, with two benefits. First, share them as a marketing tool to remind clients it's time for a new family portrait or headshot. Second, talking with Jim reminded me of the common denominator we all share - a passion for creativity and capturing memories.
Trust me on this one - take thirty minutes and go back to a file of images you captured at least ten years ago - the older, the better. Find an image you love or one that completely missed the mark - it doesn't matter. Now, think about the way you photograph today. Think about the technology you're using now versus what you had back then. Savor the backstories those images bring out - and simply appreciate the career path you chose when you decided to be a photographer.
Remember the tagline for Oldsmobile years back? "It's not your father's Oldsmobile!" Well, your eyes, heart, and skill set today aren't the same either, but you can't appreciate the journey until you realize how far you've come.
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
For most of us we've become so obsessed with building a business, and getting to that place on the floor, that we missed the beauty of each step in the process!
P.S. And to Jim - thanks for you help on this post. As I've written dozens of times - the best thing about this industry isn't really about photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.