For the past few days I’ve been wandering the streets of Edinburgh along with approximately ten million other tourists, each armed with a camera or cell phone camera. It’s actually hard sometimes to get a clear shot, such as the one above, which I took in 1997 with a film camera that had to be reloaded after eight exposures. Today’s digital cameras, however, never run out of film. It’s a bad thing, I think. Too much of anything is just too much.
What’s also hard is to find something to shoot that hasn’t already been shot. The key is to stop pointing your lens at familiar scenes and landmarks. For this wisdom I’m indebted to my friend Mark Citret, the great San Francisco minimalist. Last time Mark was in Prague, he was a having a hard time finding his rhythm. That is, until he stopped taking pictures of Prague and began working the same way he usually does–finding beauty in such mundane things as a sewage plant under construction, for instance. “My Point Lobos,” says Mark.
It also helps to stop shooting color, which in most cases only adds superfluous and unnecessary information. A marble statue doesn’t have to be flesh-colored because it’s all about form. Happily, I’m packing a camera that can be switched to “film replication.” One of the modes is monochrome/yellow filter–which resonates in the shriveled brain of someone like me, who is old enough to remember Kodak Tri-X. Here are two pictures I took today, of things no one else was photographing. Which is just the way I like it–the way it used to be.
Unfortunately, it now appears that I’m aping Mark’s style. But as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.