While on the workshop in May of this year, I had been pondering why I was left with a sense of hollowness or unease from the work I was creating digitally. I carried those feelings and thoughts with me into the workshop and was finally able to speak to Guy Tal, one of the instructors. His background in photography was with film and the large format view camera before he progressed to the digital camera and the lightroom to create his art.
During one of the breaks in the activities I shared with him the sense or feeling of unease and emptiness I felt when I worked in the lightroom. I explained the feelings while working in the darkroom, the silence, the sense that I had retired from the world and had entered a place of peace, serenity, the smells of the chemicals and the magical appearance of the image as it slowly develops in the tray.
I remember a previous post where I shared an insight from Guy about the differences between the traditional photographer and today’s digital photographer. He said in part “…the tradition perhaps most obviously lost is that of finding profound pleasure and value in the photographic process, not to the detriment of the finished image, but as an indispensable and immensely pleasurable means to it.”
Guy shared with me how he made the transition and what he does to make the process of the lightroom similar to that of the darkroom. He has a small office off of the main house and he said this is place of solitude and refuge to do his work. He said he can read, write and of course do his photographic work. His office/lightroom is his creative space and he finds satisfaction from completing his work in this environment he has set aside for this purpose.
This started me thinking about my own office, how it is set up and what I do in my office as far as the lightroom. And right next door in the bathroom converted for darkroom use. I mulled over Guy’s comments and yet there still was a sense of nagging doubt about finding the answer. But a few days later I found what I was looking for.
I decided to visit The Online Darkroom and there I discovered what I could not verbalize as to my feeling of disquiet about the lightroom experience. The blog was about Darkroom Vs Digital printing and what struck me was found under the sub heading of Satisfaction. Yes that was it! I did not have a sense of satisfaction, of completing my work when in the lightroom. This blog dealt with the sense of dissatisfaction from the work process of completing a digital print versus the darkroom print.
In my case it was not a digital versus darkroom issue but the fact that in most cases I had been preparing work for the computer screen and not a final print. In other words the satisfaction I felt after time spent in the darkroom with tangible results from my work was missing in the lightroom because I had not completed the creative process. I was leaving my work in limbo and it was incomplete because I had not produced the final print.
For me, the process of creating photographic art is not truly complete until I have a print that captures what I had visualized, not an intangible computer screen image. In the end it’s about the satisfaction and pleasure we derive from photography.