TO BALANCE on STONES or PEBBLES.
Looking out my window, at the long awaited creamy blue sky. Trees heavy in themselves sagging in this heat as planes hum by. I can’t help but wonder about all the other places out there. Places I’ve been told my whole life that I need to go. I love going places, it’s a privilege to be able to do so and I wouldn’t be who I am without it. Movement is very important to how I process my day to day and existence in general and how I stay afloat. Not just physical movement either, mental bouncing, pondering and imagining. The physical aspect of movement though is something I had no control over growing up, being at the whim of my Mom who worked hard but had addiction issues and couldn’t hold a job or an apartment. Living with my Dad on and off, with custody stresses and the world of the adult pulling at me every which way. I’ve lived so many places for such short periods of time that Living anywhere as long as I have now is so very strange to me. I’ve hit the “working on my 7th year” mark, and it’s absolutely great, but also has its way of wear and tear on my heart and my mind. There are things that I miss so much about other places I’ve called home. Friends, the weather and climate, memories and landmarks, patterns, both healthy and not so, certain smells and tasty foods that are more readily available, the list goes on. But no matter, I don’t think I’ve ever lived in one of the places I have been told to go to or that I have more recently seen as the pinnacle of sites that will roll out the much praised and glorious images before me.
Canon F1, Ultrafine Extreme 400, Spokane, wa. Photo by Milo Krims
Olympus 35RC, Ultrafine Extreme 400, Spokane, wa. Photo by Milo Krims
The town I live in now is the 2nd largest city in the state of Washington. There are loads of people here, yet when I was spending more time around them I rarely ever came across the perfect moment(s) worth photographing and better yet, I never really felt comfortable. The city is not at fault, but this idea of redundant cities and image recycling and what kind of photographer that makes you if you aren’t there or making those types of images is at fault. I’m not against street photography or the similarity in photos to a point. I just feel that the romanticizing of a style and only a few places limits the expansion of a medium or at least the things our eyes are willing to see. We’ve all been shown images of the human flooded streets of Tokyo or the characters that endlessly waltz up and down the city streets of New York, but no one has shown my city. Is it my job to do so? And if I were to someday publish work of Spokane the way I see it and the way I feel others would be interested to see it floating there among the pages, what would I highlight? Would the images I print be worthy of making Spokane the next place to visit for the traveling photographer? I would have to say, probably not.
Nikon F, 24mm f2.8, Ultrafine Extreme 400, self portrait, Spokane, wa. Photo by Milo Krims
These places we hear about are wonderful places, almost mythical in their human histories and natural beauty. There is good reason these places are mentioned again and again. Perhaps my town could have its own kind of draw. One that beckons friends, new memories and can be a hot bed for creative potential and influence. The way I perceive it is much different then how someone else would see it and photograph it and that’s a good thing. I am not a self proclaimed street photographer by any means, although I have made a little more than a handful of images of unknown people and I am happy with them, I just can’t seem to find my groove within the genre. There is an absolute skill and magnetic eye to specific moments involved with powerful street photography images, and there is also the hype. Within the hype, there are many myths within all art forms. The ones that drive us and pull at our deepest parts of ourselves and the ones that make us weary and potentially hopeless within our medium(s). Obviously there is so much that we as living creatures on this planet can get bogged down by. But whatever we find that can help us maneuver through the piles of things we can and can’t control, should be a hopeful positive and easy to navigate without too much doubt and pressure beyond the practice of learning how to communicate through those outlets.
Bolsey B2, Ultrafine Extreme 400, Spokane, wa. Photo by Milo Krims
Giving into romanticizing gear and places we travel to, want to travel to, or live in without knowing how they fit into our lives before hand, can lead to an unfulfilling and potentially big let down. Because the truth of the matter is the majority of us don’t live in those cities or places we are told we need to go to in order to live a full life or have that fulfilled vision. We just have to see the potential in our own situations and do what we can to push ourselves when and if at all possible. If we need help or inspiration, reach out!
I find myself working towards a clearing, a seeing beyond the romantic and the mythical with certain gear, but these thoughts are still there with me. Even thinking about taking certain cameras out into the world with me, as I mentioned in the previous article, makes for a mental tug-o-war. It’s hard to just commit and take it as it comes. Again this is a personal thing, and I try day after day to work on and through it, I just wonder how many others have a similar relationship to themselves and the gear they own. I’d be curious to hear about it. There is a similar feeling of using nice musical instruments for me as well. It seems to be a lack of confidence and the inability to see that it is ok to have nice things and to use them even if they get bruised up a bit. It's also perfectly fine if you don’t make the greatest creations of all time. No matter how many times we here, “It’s not the gear but the photographer that makes the image!” It still hangs above many of us out here, especially seeing countless videos, articles, hearing podcasts and meeting people who own these nice things and praise them, and amplify this idea that this is the tool you need to be the photographer you want to be. Or is it more so the photographer we are told we ought to be?
Sally, Olympus 35RC, Kodak Ultramax 400, Spokane, wa. Photo by Milo Krims
It is interesting having been given information by many sources, and still choosing to pick some of these items up, like the Leica M3, and not fully know what the true purpose is for me, beyond just owning the thing. I could very well have not given in then and tried to calm my desire, but instead I went for it and am now, a few years later coming back to these feelings that I suppose never left. The choices we make, even within such a seemingly small corner of creativity, can truly become a stone in the gut of creative digestion. The opposite of which would be the act of conceptualizing and actualizing the complete process of that idea/feeling, without the negative impact of external pressures.
Piper, Leica M3, Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4, Ultrafine extreme 400, Photo by Milo Krims
It is always very satisfying having spent a day out and coming home and developing the roll(s) I shot. Seeing those images on the negatives and scanning them and being so pleased with how they came out and how much they resemble the way I wanted them to help me remember that moment or thing. Looking over and seeing the not so hyped or loved camera I held in my hands hours prior sitting there on the table and helping me see right then, it is in fact me making those images, and it is here to help me. This city is like all other cities in a lot of ways. There are people in it, cars, dogs and cats, shops, just outside there are wonderful scenic natural waterways and meadows, and inside there are parks curated for relaxation and to please the eye. A big difference that I have come to realize over time and this may be the biggest of all, is that I am here. I’m not there, or over there, I’m right smack dab in the middle of here. Where I go from here is what remains to be seen, and I hope with just a little discernment and a pebble of an idea in my pocket, I’ll be ready, and that’s just so damn exciting to me.