MOLOKAI, HAWAII – PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP DAY 3

Lab day, photography workshop, Molokai, Hawaii. (Photo by, Jonathan Kingston/Aurora)Lab Day.  I look out on the faces in front of me.  Some nodding in comprehension, some frowning in seeming disbelief, some blank as Buddha’s face waiting for enlightenment under the bodhi tree. Unfortunately enlightenment seems to have mis-read the schedule for the day and is getting a massage instead.  I am speaking about Photoshop in class.  For some the word photoshop sends chills down their spine.  For others it conjures a feeling of somehow being able to digitally cheat a photograph into existence.  For me it is simply a tool that I have become more familiar with then I ever dreamed I would sitting in my first photoshop class at Brooks with the blank look of Buddha on my face.  

I find my mind wandering even as I speak to what lies beyond the technique and into the meat of the whole reason we do this.  The vision.  If technique without vision is meaningless and vision without technique is blind, Photoshop is the ultimate conundrum! Gaining a mastery of its tools takes months to years depending on ones skill, and very few programs I know have the ability to instantly jam someone’s creativity more than Photoshop due to its simple complexity. 

I think of the story Dewitt tells in his lectures of the two stone mason’s.  A man asks one mason sweating in the hot sun what he is doing, and he replies ‘I’m chipping stone’, he then asks a second mason what he is doing, and he replies ‘I’m building a cathedral’.   Vision.  It all comes back to vision.  Can you see the image you want?  Can you see it before you put the camera to your eye.  Can you see it before you turn on the creative kill zone of the computer?  Can you see the cathedral from the clone stamp?

Before heading to bed, Rikki drops a philosophical cluster bomb on my brain.  He says, “You know, all this stuff about art affecting the viewer is rubbish.  The art has to first affect the artist.  If your working in photoshop and it is not resonating with your soul, your images sure as hell aren’t going to resonate with anyone else’s.”  Or, to say it in the words of Nikki Giovanni, “I cry when i write, so that those reading my words can cry when they read them.”