Anita and I had many conversations during the time that we spent together. One, in particular, seems to be stuck within the folds of my brain and won’t dislodge itself. As some of you may know, Anita was an acting coach in L.A. I asked her what it was like, in other words, how do you teach someone to act? She said something to the effect that you have to get them to let go of ‘acting’ and get them to become the part. If you will, to believe that they are that character. To immerse themselves in the part.
At that point, I understood what she meant. There are actors that you can watch and totally fall into the script with. You can love them, hate them, pull for them, pull against them. You have totally suspended your disbelief and bought into the character. However, she said that that is a frightening thing for a lot of people because it causes them to have to drop their persona, their protective shielding and to become vulnerable, letting the world see what is truly inside. Some never make it. Some make it, only to be scared away by what they see. Still, others are able to pull it off.
This reminds me of when Denzel Washington wanted to play the role of a bad guy. The studios were not sure that he could pull it off, but, hey, he’s Denzel. Let him try. The movie Training Day was a smash! Denzel was downright scary. He was quite believable as a bad guy. Next, American Gangster, again, quite believable! He’s, in my opinion, willing to fall completely into any role that he is given, as long as it fits within his values. He has that ‘gangsta’ side and is not afraid to show.
Why this kept sticking in my brain is that I could quite easily relate it to photography, in general, and my photography specifically. Sometimes, it is very hard to drop that persona and dig down and shoot the way that I want to shoot for fear that it might not be any good, it might not be acceptable, it might not be laudable – all three being fears of not being validated externally. This photography, for me, is a constant experiment of who I am, what I like, what matters to me and sometimes I ‘get it’, other times, I just meander about, looking for the trail.
There are times when I will settle upon a photo, such as the one included here and say: Yeah! That’s me. There are other times when I’ll look at photos and know that I fell into copying someone else. I’m not necessarily looking for originality, but more for honesty … getting those photos that I believe in, not just those that will show well to the outside world, those that are catering to external opinion. Sure, accolades are nice, but if you become a slave to them, you completely lose your way. I suppose that I shall keep peeling this onion for the rest of my life. With each passing year, I suppose, the layers change.