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A lens, an exhibition and a resolution

Just a couple days ago I opened a beautiful 28mm Carl Zeiss Biogon f/2.8 lens to go with my Leica MD-2. In case you missed my last blog post, I was recently given this rare Leica that has typically been used in medical labs attached to microscopes. It has no viewfinder or light meter, so in order to use it, I'll be zone focusing and using a light meter app on my phone (unless someone has an extra light meter laying around in their attic).

As I joined together the lens and the body, all I wanted to do was look through it! But, since that's impossible, I'll have to get to shooting this week. I bought a few rolls of Lomography black & white film to experiment with. My plan for now is to just to one roll to start because of the cost associated with developing and that fact that I'm not convinced my results will be any good. So, I want to be patient and slow. 

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This week also represented a huge event in my creative life. Ever since I developed my first photo in the darkroom many years ago, I've wanted to have my own photography exhibition. I've never known how to do it or had the connections to make it happen. Not to mention, I've never felt like I had good enough work to do it with. But, this week I had the privilege of installing my first solo photography exhibition! All of this certainly comes with excitement, but also a lot of anxiety. My emotions as a photographer seem to change daily. On one day, I'll feel like my work is strong and needs to be seen. But, on other days I'm frustrated by it and think it doesn't matter.

I'm so humbled to have the Artists' Guild of Spartanburg invite me to show my work for a month. Those insecure feelings are amplified right now. I want people to go see the exhibition, but I'm also really bad about talking about my photography. I don't like to self-promote, but I've got to pass out some flyers. I feel like the work that's hanging tells a story and is good, but I don't want to be wrong. This is the first time that my photography has taken a shift from being for me to being for others to appreciate. And, in order for the photos to be in the gallery, they have to be for sale. I had no idea how to price my own work. I know what these photos are worth to me, but I have no idea what they might be worth for someone else. 

The title of the exhibition is These Streets: From dirt roads to megacities. The 23 photos in the exhibition are from all over the world, spanning five continents. As the subtitle implies, they were shot on dirt roads in villages only accessible by a canoe to megacities with tens of millions of people. My hope for the exhibition is for visitors to see the value of a person and to become more aware of those around them.

Here's a look at the main wall in the gallery:

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and one of my son checking it out:

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I'm writing this on New Year's Eve and feel entitled to leave a resolution for 2018. I'm a goal-driven person by nature, so setting resolutions has never really interested me. It's always seemed like one more thing to do. But, this year, I want to set one, simple resolution as a photographer. I want to shoot more. I know that if I shoot more, more good things will come from it. I'll become a better photographer, find more of my voice and come up with more creative projects. I want to publish some zines. I'd absolutely love to have another exhibition. I have some personal projects that I want to shoot. I want to continue to explore analog photography. But, all of these things are only possible if I keep shooting. 

For some, this might seem like a trivial goal. But, I've had a lot of ebbs and flows with my photography. I love my career and because photography is not my day job, my career has to come first. There are plenty of times where my calendar just doesn't warrant the time to shoot. The kind of photography I enjoy most is on the street. I can't do that at home and I have an eight minute commute in my car, so it's not like I can shoot on the subway in a large city. There are also times where I get in a creative rut. In this process of figuring out myself as an artist, I'll get overwhelmed by seeing the high quality of other people's work. I have a tendency to think I could never stack up and I might get down on my work. Don't get me wrong, there are also times when it drives me to shoot more and get better, too. Shooting more is the obvious resolution here.

On a closing note, my photography has always been and continue to be for me. It's great when someone else appreciates my work, but I make photos for my own expressions and satisfaction. The tension, however, lies in the desire to be in the conversation with great photographers. There's a desire to know that I'm one of them, that my work matters and is worthy of sharing. I hope that 2018 can bring me some of that. It's an artistic confidence thing, I guess. I can't think of another way to put it. So, if you're in my town, come see the exhibition and drop a line in the guest book. Here's your invitation:

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Jason Williamson