I have studied photography at Purchase college from, this means I took four photo classes between 1999-2000. I had a falling out with photography, and for almost 10 years I didn't take a single picture with any creative ambitions. During this time I became a licensed x-ray tech, the irony was lost on me in almost a Freudian sense. Once the means became available I started traveling, and wanted to document my trips. I purchase an entry level DSLR and had a fresh start with no art school ambitions. It wasn't until I found backpacking that I fell in love with photography again, in particular the landscape. I remembered my original infatuation with the Photo Secession, Eduard Steichen, Sally Mann, and the 19th century pioneering photographers. There was an expression possible in landscape that I haven't found in any other medium, it serves as almost a stage. Once the image is devoid of, or at least not focused on, human subjects, other expressive possibilities are possible. Technologically much had changed in those 10 years.
My first taste of photography involved the chemical darkroom, film was the only feasible option at the time. I couldn't stand digital work, as it had not matured yet, and my imagination didn't let me see that it was inevitable. I longed for processes of the past, and aesthetics of the chemical process. I became interested in antique and pinhole cameras, but 35mm was the only economic option for me. Upon returning I didn't have any creative aspirations for my work, so digital was just fine. It simplified so many difficulties that are inherent in analogue work. Now it has exceeded film in most regards, but there will always be a film niche due to personal preference. Once I had warmed up to digital photography and (my one time nemesis) photoshop, The creative potential is overwhelming.
n art school the spoken lesson that is instilled on just about every student who listens, is that the ultimate goal is to become famous. The irony is that artists with commercial intents are looked down on as low art, or kitsch. If read between the line, most art school instruction tells the student that work should be relevant to the contemporary art dialogue. Work that does not live up to this criteria is looked at as nonsense. The ultimate goal is to make work that integrates into the contemporary dialogue, break ground into some uncharted area, become a tenured professor to teach students to become tenured professors, obtain gallery representation, and hopefully find a place in the history books. All while focusing purely on the creative product with no interest in the commercial value (maybe a museum will buy that room full of popcorn, or a collector will become their patron saint), that will be displayed in a gallery that displays work that people with a conservative cultural disposition will say is not art. The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming, and can be creatively stifling.
The dust is still settling, even after all these years, but my take on it is the creation of art is a creative experience. It is not uncommon for people to describe this interaction with the creative in mystical terms. For me this experience is the ultimate goal of creative work, and secondary is to share this experience with others. Thoughts of not even fame, but acceptance, rejection, questions of integrity, authenticity, originality and self worth and so on can be terrifying. These trains of thought suck out any joy in this work, this is evident by most adults fear of any mention of creative work. I have simplified my goals to allowing myself to freely explore, and discover places and subjects that move me, to create work that I wish had existed, but could not find, and finally to share this work with others. I have a love of these landscapes I have found, and hope that others too share in my experience.