I never used to worry about repeating myself, because I thought it wasn’t possible to take the same photograph more than once, in a “can’t step in the same river twice” kind of way. Even two photos taken very close to the same time and same place will be different by infinitesimal details, and in those details, I thought, there would be enough difference to fill up a lifetime of photography.
There’s definitely a part of me that recognizes that, and also sees that even though I have a routine, and do some of the same things over and over again, my approach changes, and in the case of these photos, I’m a different person than I was when I was taking the photos the first year.
That last point might seem trite, but it’s worth some emphasis in the light of my last post. The idea that the photographs are a trail of evidence left by the photographer of their own personality, a cryptic map of their psychology.
“I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.”
I am affected by what I see, and that feeds back into the pictures. Anyway. I’ll quote Ulysses basically for any reason, love that poem. “Some work of noble note may yet be done, not unbecoming men who strove with gods.” I’ve also been reading Moby Dick since last Friday, maybe that’s why I’m thinking of ancient mariners.
So for these pictures, this year, I used the new camera, the Nikon Z8, with all my Leica M lenses. There were some growing pains (turns out for non-CPU lenses the Z8’s meter is finicky), but it definitely allowed me to do different things than last year, when I relied mostly on the point-and-shoot Ricoh GRIIIx. I also wasn’t trying super hard to make a record of any one thing, again, just shooting what was interesting at the time.
I don’t know about other photographers, but once that pressure is off, I can relax and just make honest pictures. I’m not trying to make any great statements about anything; it’s more a kind of sense making, trying to understand the world by making art about it. Of course now I’m making a post-hoc justification for how I work based on how I feel now, I wasn’t thinking about any of this while I was shooting. Of course, that new understanding will feed back into the work I do from here on, and so maybe I don’t need to worry about repeating myself, still? Let’s not and pretend we never did.