As you know, if you're following along, I'm in the early stages of trying to figure out how I see now. Which made it particularly awkward, photographically, to go home to O'ahu.
Historically, I've always found it hard to make photos I really like when I'm home. My emotions are thrown into such turmoil because of being home, seeing my family and friends, swimming in the ocean that was almost literally my amniotic fluid, eating my foods, hearing the language I grew up with... it's a lot, and it overwhelms the intuitive side of my brain that I am always trying to tap into when I'm making photos.
So being in the early stages of what is a particularly trying photographic project meant that all of the turmoil that project is creating for me crashed right into my normal turmoil from being home. And that was a lot. I went on several walks where I shot a lot of photos but didn't come back with anything that wasn't a literal response to what was in front of me. Not what I was going for. Disheartening. Demoralizing.
The trick, of course, is that it's really all about doing the work. Although Chuck Close is problematic these days, this quote remains one of the smartest comments about making art that I know of:
The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.
Which of course I know, and I always, always forget. I do. I know that I just need to do the work. I know it's always been the right path before. I know it doesn't feel good, but it's good for me. And yet, it always feels more like falling than flying.
So I struggled. I was frustrated. But I kept going out and photographing. And then, mid-week, something shifted. I was walking down a side street near the (allegedly haunted) Le'ahi Hospital, and for the first time that week, I Saw. It's hard for me to describe that feeling (if I could, I'd probably be a writer, not a photographer). David has been on me for years to read My Name is Asher Lev (which I fully admit he was right about, yes, David...), and that book contains some of the best descriptions of what it feels like to begin to really See in an artistic sense. I won't quote them here, because there are too many, and you should really go read the book.
This is an imperfect picture. It's from the beginning of this process. But it's also a trophy of what happens when I remember to just keep doing the damn work.