Perfect is, as I’ve learned, temporary. It’s an addiction, it’s something that drives you to keep searching. You hit a high when you see the result and share it or find it published. and then you move on. It’s always there, on your hard drive, phone or in print and perhaps it will always be perfect in its own way but you just know you can’t leave it at that.
I’m always intrigued as to what the equivalent feeling is for people with proper jobs; lawyers, teachers, engineers. Perhaps each case, class or construction project represents itself in a similar light. What does this tell us though? What does it say about humans? Are we never satisfied, always in search of more? Is this greed, an insatiable hunger or is it perhaps perfectionism arising in each of us?
Questions, questions. There is no end. We, photographers that is, carry on. To many, one surfer on a beautiful wave is just the same as another. One rider cruising a perfect line enough. In my case, it’s just more running.
I’ve learned to find answers in artists gone by. Picasso, Warhol, Monet, Turner. Vast catalogues of art, much of the same theme. still lives, landscapes, moody skies. They developed a signature style by perfecting their art, practising and repeating. In the moment, it’s just another ....... . But on reflection, it was part of a process. A process born of addiction, a process of necessity. Helpless to do anything else. In the words of Dr Seuss, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”.
This trait (if that’s what we call it) more often than not goes largely unrewarded in financial terms. There’s thousands of surf, ski, mtb photographers out there, many indistinguishable from another. 95% scraping for a living. Delve deeper and you begin to notice trends. Look at their larger body of work rather than the one photo on Instagram and you might begin to see a style however.
For me, it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain to my wife why I need to go away and shoot the same runner in a similar scenario again. It’s always a challenge attempting to explain the grip, the buzz, the thrill of being in that moment when conditions align and you capture something truly unique and breathtaking. Trying to put a value on it seems a disservice to be honest, but when you attempt to make a living from the thing you’re obsessed and passionate about that’s the downfall.
These are just thoughts. My thoughts. I’d loved to hear about your addiction.
Al Humphreys brilliant blog
Ski Photographer / The Shadow Campaign
My latest addiction project