Getting out there…

Robert Frank (The Americans, 1958) said this: “Like a boxer trains for a fight, a photographer needs to practice by getting out and taking pictures every day. It doesn’t matter how many he takes or if he takes any at all. It gets you prepared to know what you should take pictures of or what is the right thing to do and when.”

To say Frank knew what he was talking about is an understatement. After securing a Guggenheim grant in 1955, Frank spent almost two years traveling all over the USA, and the end result was over 27,000 images. He edited those down to 83 to create one of the most seminal photography books ever – The Americans. And that editing process is the topic of another posting down the road.


Anyone who aspires to be an accomplished pianist practices for hours every day. Ditto an athlete. Why is it then that “artists” feel entitled to wait for “inspiration”?  I remember someone responding to my husband’s comment that he’s in the studio Mon-Fri with astonishment: “You mean you go in and paint every day???!!” Hello?

Sakura Storm©Dave Wade. All Rights Reserved

Sakura Storm©Dave Wade. All Rights Reserved

Last week I ran into Dave Wade, whose work is represented by VoxPhotographs. He was out in Tommy’s Park in Portland on a gray, yucky day taking pictures. I have to wonder if he ever leaves the house without that camera in his hand. I doubt it.

The day before I had teasingly reminded Jim Nickelson, also part of the gallery stable, and in the midst of creating an extraordinary full moon series, that the night before had been a full moon, hint, hint. I knew he had company for the week, was flooded with work, and has a 6 year old he’s mightily involved in caring for, so my job dropped when he said: “I know. I drove to Acadia and shot pictures.” I should have known.

Great Spirit Moon III©Jim Nickelson. All Rights Reserved

Great Spirit Moon III©Jim Nickelson. All Rights Reserved

Yes, I’m fortunate to have gallery artists who are dead serious about their work. They don’t just talk about it. They know “inspiration” is a fleeting moment of insight and vision, not a formula for success. That formula is called working.

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4 Responses to “Getting out there…”

  1. Robert Frank’s “The Americans” is on view in its entirety at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA for at least another week. Also on view in their entirety are Bill Owens’ “Suburbia”, Aaron Siskind’s “Harlem Document”, William Eggleston’s “14 Pictures”, and Bruce Davidson’s “Brooklyn Gang”. I believe Davidson will be speaking one of these days as well. It doesn’t get much better than this folks!

  2. Sorry, I forgot to mention William Christenberry’s “15 Alabama Photographs” as well.

    • We went to see this exhibit at Addison on Saturday – terrific! I particularly loved the Bill Owens “Suburbia” series. But top of the list is definitely “The Americans”.

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