Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Medicine Comp. To Photography

It occurred to me this evening that it sure is a lot easier to be a doctor than to be a fine art photographer. You can't say it's a matter of experience, I have been photographing a lot longer than I have been practicing medicine. Perhaps I wouldn't feel this way if I had spent 12 years in a fine art photography programme at a good school but I don't know.

There are times when out photographing and one shot after another just seems to fall into place and I can't help feeling - is this all there is to it - it's too simple, too easy, anyone could do it, and of course it's true - the actual process of making an image with modern equipment is pretty darn simple and issues like colourspaces is just a matter of finding out the right way once and for all, it's getting to the point where you are ready to press the shutter that is the tough part.

Day to day though, I'm glad I have medicine to provide my income, even if photography could pay as well (it does for a limited few). I sit there and the patients come to me, they tell me their problems, I develop a hypothesis about their problem, ask a few probing questions, examine them for same, maybe run a few tests and voila, I know what to do with them - if only photography were that simple.

I have to come up with an idea for a subject from a complete void, I then need to search out a location and work the scene, over and over before I find what I really want, then I have to somehow organize it into a working composition. I need to edit the image. Using the tools is the easy part, it's knowing what you want to have them do that is challenging.

Andy's a Phd. physics and a published photographer, wonder if he feels the same?


Andy Ilachinski said...

George, It would likely take me the better part of a month to begin answering that question in earnest (a darn hard question it is!). Short version: the creative aspects of both professions, in my case, are, on a meta-level, roughly equivalent. That is, in their respective domains, both physics and photography tap into the ineffably non-objective part of our brains; it could take minutes to find a "solution", or it could take days, I just don't know...but the process is equivalent, and equivalently exhilirating. Indeed, it is precisely this "all but impossible" to describe process of coming around to "seeing" a solution or photograph that draws me both to science and art.

Having said that, I move on to the pragmatic level. Physics pays the bills! Simple as that. I *know* that, while wearing my physics hat, I will have loads and loads of time (for which I am well compensated) to just "think"...I have that luxury. In photography, the time I have is the time I both make (myself) and "borrow" (from my family). I therefore also "know" that I do not have precious loads of it. I sometimes think that is something of a small advantage, creatively, since I learn to make "best possible use" of time when I get it. Coupled with that is also the implicit understanding that when I am doing my photography, I have no "pressure" to perform; I do it on my time, of my choosing, and lose nothing (effectively) if a particular day (or week) leads to abject failure. On the other (third?;-) hand, I am my own harshest critic when it comes to photography, and I always have to come up with lame escuses to myself about why a photo-safari day came to naught; over the course of time that takes its toll too (as my standards seem to always go up, but unfortunately seldomely alongside a requisite rise in actual quality! ;-)

So, which is "easier" when all is said and done? I think I'm siding with you on this one. Its not that doing "physics" is "going through the motions" (I certainly hope not), but my "day job" has the virtue of having much of its substance/activity defined beforehand. Little energy (creative or otherwise) is spent wondering about what problem to think about, or even whether *today* is a good day to start a new paper. Not to even speak of the mathematical techniques and computer modeling tools I'll be using; I *know* what they are, and just apply them as need be (or know where to turn to learn about them, *almost* as though on auto-pilot). But photography...in a sense, photographers are happiest when they are enshrouded in the totally unknown...we peek around that perpetually elusive corner in hopes of finding something we hope we never find: something new that we've never seen before, and have little idea about what to do with it if it appears. We *want* to be tested, creatively, again and again. For photography, the unknown, the uncertain (and therefore the most difficult) is far more conducive to creativity than comfort or familiarity.

In physics, there is certainly the perpetual yearning to "learn more"...but learning is a process that has been mastered by most by the time they know what that yearning is (and succumb to it). In photography, on the other hand, there is a perpetual yearning to "find/do something new", which is a very, very hard thing to do, much less "master".

Thanks for a wonderful post/question. I suspect your and my "answers" are far, far from being the last words on the subject for others in this situation.

Unknown said...

well said.... please check out my post today I would be intrested in your view...

Peace ~ John