Absence of Ego

Louis Parker - The Devil and Miss Jones. (1941)

Tonight I finished editing and preparing images that will be printed as part of the 100 prints project that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Almost as soon as I saved the last file, I pulled out a wooden box containing medium format negatives taken during the early 1940’s by a Mr. Louis Parker. The negatives were loaned to me by his family so that I could scan and create prints for the family from them.

After reviewing the first dozen negatives, I immediately found that the shift from editing my work, to editing the work by someone else nearly seventy years ago to be quite fascinating.

Here I was, looking though my own volume of work, trying to edit a selection for what I hoped people would find worthwhile seventy years down the road. Then, fifteen minutes later, I was the person seventy years down the road looking at the images, determining what was still interesting.

Louis Parker - Boy on Bicycle (c.1941)

Since the work I’m looking at now isn’t mine, I realized that my own photographer’s ego towards the work that I create has been completely cut out of the equation. The trap that many artist’s fall into of believing that their work is somehow superior, just because it is something they themselves have created, is no longer a factor. Thus, I can review this work in a very similar fashion that I hope the generation to come will review mine. This was kind of a profound experience, and I have a feeling that how I edit this body of work will do wonders for how I perceive my own work, and will probably effect how I shoot and edit my own images in the future.

I’ll write a follow up post when I’m done with this project, just to recap what I thought was worth hanging on to, and what still made for boring photographs after seventy years. After my initial review though, I’ll just say this; caged animals in a zoo don’t get any more exciting after seventy years.