Musings on Photography

Close to Home

Posted in motivation by Paul Butzi on May 31, 2007

Cornus Kousa 'Galilean'

For quite a while, I spent a lot of time photographing on the coast.  It involved a fair amount of travel.  Then I moved, and since then I’ve tried to focus on photographing close to home.  That cuts into the potential audience for my work, because there are far fewer people interested in the Snoqualmie Valley than there are interested in the Pacific coast of Oregon and Washington.  But, since the primary audience for the work is me, and I’ve been more interested in the Snoqualmie Valley than I am in the coast, I did the photography where the interest was.

Lately, it seems I don’t even have much desire to head down to the valley. So I’ve been photographing closer to home – mostly within a few hundred yards, but often much closer to that. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I’m pretty sure that the way to figure it out is to just go with the flow and make the photographs that I want to be making when I want to make them.

8 Responses

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  1. Martin Doonan said, on June 1, 2007 at 5:50 am

    I like the new stuff – it actually reminds me strongly of what I consider “home”: Wiltshire in UK. I also like the strong sense of place that much of the new work has.

  2. Mike said, on June 1, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Reminds me that Paul Strand also ended up photographing his garden. That was close to home.

  3. Bryan Willman said, on June 1, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Beware of the world closing in. (Very much a pot warning the kettle here…)

  4. Alex Brikoff said, on June 1, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Seems like you answered your own question and solved the dilemma yourself. You’re doing the kind of photography that YOU like and what speaks to you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!! It seems that there are a lot of artists/photographers that create art that they perceive is expected of them for whatever reason and eventually they lose touch with the reason or motivation that led them to persue THEIR art in the first place. Congratulations for having the courage to do YOUR art.

  5. Doug Plummer said, on June 1, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Well, it’s all about paying attention to what is compelling, isn’t it? There was a time when my most compelling subject was 6000 miles away, on the west coast of Ireland. Now, when I’m not on assignment, I often don’t leave my neighborhood for a week or more. Like you, there are days now when I find my Daily Photo in the garden, steps from my door.

  6. Rory said, on June 3, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    “…a lot of artists/photographers that create art that they perceive is expected of them for whatever reason and eventually they lose touch with the reason or motivation that led them to persue THEIR art in the first place…”

    I guess that has a lot to do with the vagaries of pleasing an audience. In Paul’s case, I have read the accounts of his trips to the Pacific coast and, unless I have misread, that is the kind of photography he liked at that particular time. He certainly wasn’t doing it for me!

    Which of course brings up whether or not we as photographic website owners have a responsibility to keep our audience happy, or at least to buffer them from ‘about-turns’ in our photographic direction. Paul has avoided such a pitfall by documenting his photographic evolution and his thoughts on why he’s presently doing what he’s doing: he has, in effect, brought all his visitors along with him on his journey. If the only thing that matters is pleasing yourself, irrespective of what anyone else thinks, why post pictures up on the web for people to view?

  7. Oren Grad said, on June 3, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    If the only thing that matters is pleasing yourself, irrespective of what anyone else thinks, why post pictures up on the web for people to view?

    Paul didn’t say that was his only reason, just his primary reason. I’m reminded of David Vestal’s outlook. He has always been candid about taking pictures for himself, “scratching his own itch”. But having done so, once he has prints that satisfy him, he finds it worthwhile to put them out in the world, on the chance that someone else may enjoy them too. The knowledge that from time to time someone else has found value in one’s work is a nice extra reward, even if it’s neither necessary nor sufficient to have motivated the work in the first place.

  8. Quotidian art | Art & Perception said, on June 4, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    […] blog entries, one by Paul Butzi (I’ve been riffing off him a lot lately) on photographing “Close To Home,” and Birgit’s “Dune Quest” have got me thinking about the notational aspects […]


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