The stage of working with the medium, follows the initial elation when the idea emerges in the artist’s mind. At some point, which may not be for a while, the idea must develop from a thought in one’s head. Some of Townsend’s interviewees spoke fondly about this period as one where the positive thoughts of a potential project remain untarnished by the act of trying to turn it into a practical outcome. For example, Gina Glover spoke of her disappointment when she processes the first rolls of film:
“I have the film processed and I just look at them and they are often quite disappointing . . . it’s generally always disappointing.” (Glover in Townsend 2019: 37).
I recognise this disjunct between an idea compared with the early actualisation of it through photographic images. I start to question how I will actually achieve my objectives and somehow enable the camera to produce something in my head. Sometimes I think I have achieved something – immediately after a shoot – however, when I start to process the images, they do not convey the feeling or emotion, that glimpse of the ephemeral hiddenness of Skye that I am seeking. I ask myself whether the location is right and why the images do not convey what I was hoping for. This process and the negativity and disappointment can go on for some time!
Dryden Goodwin, a photographer and artist, explains this process:
“There’s something about the positive feedback you get from putting a pencil on a page. For me that relates to how I want to use the camera. And you know, I suppose there is a kind of relationship between the sort of touching with the eye or touching with the lens . . . there’s nervousness . . . will you be able to find a way of holding that within the limitations of what the camera can do? But then pushing what the camera can do.” (Goodwin in Townsend 2019: 40).
I believe that Goodwin is talking here about that close relationship, that closeness that a photographer has with the camera. I have spoken before about the times, when the images do live up to expectations, and the camera feels like an extension of me. The camera and I are as one. Inevitably this feeling also coincides with a deep connection with the subject I am working with. Townsend describes this relationship between artist and medium as a collaboration or partnership to achieve our ends – I would certainly agree with that.
TOWNSEND, Patricia. 2019. Creative States of Mind: Psychoanalysis and the Artist’s Process. Abingdon: Routledge.