A week ago, I sat on a snow-caked bench throwing my shoe in the air. My hands trembled as a chilling wind picked up, bringing the adjusted temperature down into the the single digits. I shook the snow off of the Vibram sole, rearranged the red laces, reset the focus and stretched out my hand. With a toss and subsequent "thump" of the shutter, my 5d Mark II took a 1/8000 second exposure, freezing my Danner boot in the air forever. Unsatisfied with the result on my three inch LCD, I repeated the process. As blood drained from my hand, I focused on the small image visible through the viewfinder for another 40 minutes deadset on getting the desired image. After 100 tries, my freezing hands overcame my uncompromising, perfectionist desire to get the perfect image and I retired my camera to my backpack and headed towards the car.
My stubbornness, overly critical tendencies and often stratospheric expectations instrumental in creating my aesthetic taste lend themselves to all aspects of my life and identity. Recently these traits have put a lot of pressure on the relationships in my life that I value most and forced me to take a step back and assess.
The cost of not getting your way or being over critical is not an uncomfortably cold hand (like with taking photos of flying shoes), but a break down of close ties. I can afford to toss my shoe in the air 100 times to capture an image but I cant afford to approach my personal relationships with the same selfish criteria.
On the flight home from New England to the Northwest, I finished Edward S. Curtis's biography, Shadow Catchers. Curtis' inability to compromise and approach to his personal relationships with the same criteria of his capturing images of Native Americans resulted in an extremely depressing personal life culminating with his death at 84 in the house of his only child that would put up with him. I share this story and metaphor not as an excessive public self critique, but because I feel it has relevance to a lot people and is a topic often overlooked. The challenge is to let my critical eye, high expectiation and conviction to my values florish with my work but not define my relationships with the people around me.
Here are some more links,
The Cost of a Toss (Picasa).