“The blank space can be humbling.”
– Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
Tharp is referring to the empty room in which she has to choreograph a new dance, though she also mentions the virgin canvas in front of the painter or the empty page staring at the writer. Most artists have their equivalent to the “blank space”. The first step beyond that blankness can be the most challenging.
I’ve been thinking lately about whether photographers face that same situation in our work. We can always create an image by clicking the shutter – it may not be a very good image, but going from nothing to something is pretty straightforward.
But I am familiar with that feeling of “how do I start?”. For me it comes when I try to think of something to photograph that I care about. Which images to capture is my blank slate.
I’m part of a small photography group that meets monthly and all the members have to decide upon a long term personal project to work on next year. What to do? What will challenge, inspire, interest me? While I don’t often feel I’m looking at a blank canvas once I have an idea of what I want to shoot, getting to that point puts me in the same mental space. It’s one I have to work to get beyond.
I’m about to choreograph a dance of images and I’m feeling a little humbled right now…