When You Do Something Because You Can’t Not Do It

Sunset in the Canyon of the Rio Grande, New Mexico

There are at least two things in life that, for me, fall into the category of things I couldn’t not do even if I wanted to.  Photography is one of them.

It wasn’t always like this.  Certainly before I purchased my first digital camera back in 2006, I wasn’t practicing photography at all.  Even after that, it was a very stop-and-start process for many years, where brief periods of learning were frequently followed by months, or even years, of inactivity.  It wasn’t until 2012, when I made my first black and white print, that things really turned a corner.  That print was a tipping point of some kind, because ever since then, I can’t get seem to get enough of this discipline.

If there was a common thread, though, an underlying current beneath this whole thing, it has been that photography truly has been a lifelong interest of mine.  Even when I was young, I would notice and look at photographs in a way that I didn’t for painting, or sculpture, or any of the other visual arts.  There was something about the realism of photographs, combined with the element of artistic interpretation, that was uniquely compelling about them.   As I grew older, I always held photography as something that I wanted to eventually explore, even if immediate needs and circumstances at any given time made that difficult.  When digital photography put photographic processing on a computer instead of a wet darkroom, it finally became practical for me to take it up in a serious way.

I think some of the things I’ve identified in this post are signs that should be paid attention to.  If you have a consistent interest in something, that lasts over time and doesn’t go away, then maybe you should be giving it a try.  If you’ve tried and failed one or more times, but the interest is still there and is sincere, maybe keep trying for it.  I’ve found that a true interest sustains the expenditure of effort, and effort expended over time usually results in accomplishment.  And if you’ve reached the point where it is something you can’t not do, then you might really be on to something.

The image in this post, “Sunset in the Canyon of the Rio Grande,” has been banging around on my computer for quite some time.  It is an image I thought would be relatively straightforward to work on, relatively easy to achieve the look I had in my mind for it.  Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case at all.  It took several cycles of trying things out, then shelving it for awhile, the coming back with fresh eyes to try something new.  To be honest, I just wanted to delete it after awhile, and on several occasions almost did.  But there was something there.  I found I kept working on it, because I just couldn’t not work on it.  And in the end, I think I accomplished the goal I set for it, at least to my own satisfaction.

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