The story behind the project
Part three: treading water
It proved harder to reproduce images with a similar feel and look then initially anticipated. No matter how hard I tried to recreate the circumstances that had existed that morning and that had made "Les fidèles" into the rough, uncut diamond I experienced it to be, the first street endeavours thereafter left me empty handed upon return. Sure enough, opening LR revealed several hundreds of images on the Ricohs' memory card, but equally nothing really to show for. After a taste of euphoria last Sunday, I was now served some of defeat.
Browsing through them, I realised these images had one main something in common: they bored the hell out of me. Either in their desperate attempt to glorify the most trivial the street has to offer or in their "perfect" execution or in failing altogether to be something at all. Lots of form, little story. They either tried really hard to convince the viewer of their relevance as photographic image, and thus me as maker, or advertised their contents as the next big thing after utopia. Beautiful, fashionable hipster-life-style-street-stock images, if such thing exists, executed close to perfection, with a vague hint towards documentary, just in case someone would feel the urge to take them serious. Pretentious if anything. Did I say they were colourful but nevertheless utterly boring already?
I decided to trace back my steps. To take a break from shooting and have a closer look at the result of all the street sessions previous to the one of that Sunday morning. Maybe images were to be found which I missed in the past but nevertheless held, maybe not all, but one or some of the ingredients I was looking for and which I believed to make up a worthful capture.
Convinced that a singular, great image does not come to existence out of nothing, I set out on my quest for signs of it in the shots that had preceded it. What if I had been sketching for a longer period prior to capturing that moment?
Looking through hundreds of images while frenetically zooming in and out, cropping, styling and what not (really, everything was allowed. It was a real massacre. Take my word for it!) revealed the keys to what was less of a graphical analysis of the images to my surprise. Instead they opened up windows to the process I must have had been involved in when looking out into the world in search for that perfect shot.
As creator, it struck me to realise my work was looking back at me. To realise that all this time I had been gazing at the reflection off me (quiet literally so due to the overly shiny iMac screen) . The thought pushed me back in my seat. I felt cornered and obliged to put words to what I saw, to find arguments for why something delivered on the promise of excitement and another didn't. The very question I had neglected, refused to answer from the start, as for why I stepped out there in the first place, armed with a camera, imposed itself.
An answer which at this point I was still very reluctant to hunt. Ultimately, the streets had been a welcome return to feeling free making photography. I needed it to stay that way. No strings attached.