Photography Dreams



I’ll often be walking through parts of town that I’m familiar with, and the following will happen. I’ll turn a new corner, or discover an alleyway that takes me into a part of town I have never seen before. These new sections of town that I stumble into often look like an industrialized wasteland. I find myself strolling through tight passages of steel and weather-worn concrete that resemble the streets of Battleship Island, only with the debris cleared out, and a healthy population of people still going about their daily lives.

I load my camera and start shooting everyone in sight. Any inhibitions I normally have while shooting people are completely absent. I shoot without care, and no one cares that I’m shooting them. A thick haze will start to form on these streets, only to get penetrated by direct light of the setting sun. This play of light & fog creates the surrealist feeling I’ve ever experienced on the street. People keep coming, and I keep shooting.

A photographic dream I've never actually had.
A photographic dream I've never actually had.

I’ll end up running about seven rolls of film through my camera and every single frame feels like it was a better image than the last. I’m in photographic bliss and can’t wait to get home and process the results and proof my work.

Right about at this moment, the worst thing happens—my alarm clock goes off. Crap. It was all just a dream again.

I’d always wake up from this dream feeling a bit upset that I’d never be able to see what I’ve shot. At the same time though, I usually feel more enlightened after having it. It feels like my brain is knocking down some of the mental obstacles that I need to overcome before I can become completely comfortable shooting in a street environment. Every time I wake up from this dream I feel as though I’ve leveled up a bit, and find my self with just a little more guts & courage to take the kind of photos that I want to take the next time I head out with camera in hand.

Over the course of the last few month, the dream has evolved some. What I often dream about now is essentially the same thing, only with one major difference.

In my modern dreams, I’ll be a few rolls into one of these amazing outings when my camera will jam up. I’ll try to advance to the next frame, but the advance lever gets tighter and tighter every time I try. Eventually I’ll apply just a little more force on the advance lever and it will give out. There will be a loud snap and the entire insides of my M6 will explode into thousands of bits and pieces. I never seem to be carrying a backup.

That dream is much worse, but I always wake up happier knowing that my actual camera is still functional, and in great condition, ready for another day of searching for that surreal alley I always seem to be looking for.

So, what kind of photographic dreams do you experience? Do you ever feel like you’ve gotten better just by having them?

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