During college, I took a studio class. It was meant to teach us about artificial lighting, present products in an agreeable way and refine our commercial skills. While I enjoyed the nitty-gritty details surrounding light, I was positively uninspired by the cleanliness of it all. At one point I decided that I would try to bring the 'outdoors' in, photographing my trusty backpack, hiking boots, and camp stove against a stark white background with beautifully even light. The photographs were good, but my product was a little too "dingy," or so I was told.
I may have mentioned that last month I spoke on photography at the Carolina Cane Gathering. It was mostly #keepemwet, conservation and a few tips and tricks, but I did spend some time on basic studio photography. I went over an easy and affordable way to build a lightbox (shower curtains for the win). That meant that I also had to shoot a few "studio" images. I spent several hours indoors with lighting trying to inspire myself with a fly and a bamboo rod before eventually giving up and moving outdoors, lightbox in tow.
The past few weeks I feel like I'm stuck in a lightbox. The outdoors are all around me, so close, but just out of reach. Hospitals are clean and stark and full of artificial light. I've been observed and dissected. Everything is controlled, calculated, everything but me.
Here's the thing about a trout stream, it's dirty, unpredictable, messy, and most of all, adventurous. There's no controlling the light or dictating backgrounds. We are simply visitors. It's a place to let go of control and find stillness in the uncertainty. I look forward to next week, to dirt and fresh air, trout and grimy flies, but most of all, I look forward to the uncertainty.
By the way, I'm still using that "dingy" backpack, eleven years later; it's almost broke in.