A little less analytical and a little more ramble.
The power of perception is one that is of extreme interest to me. As an artist (that's kind of weird for me to say still), I have become very sensitive to things I see. Perhaps "appreciative" could be a more correct term. Two years ago, someone could have told me about Duchamp's The Fountain, a urinal tipped on its side that was submitted into an art show in the early twentieth century, and I would have laughed. Hard. Of course, after learning about the events surrounding the entry of The Fountain and studying What exactly Duchamp was thinking, I appreciate it. So much. This is just an example of how someone can be ignorant to what they see, not at the fault of anyone many times--it just happens, and after being exposed to its context completely changing his or her perception of it. Interesting how that works isn't it?
I read in a book that was written by Phil Vischer about the rise and fall of Big Idea, the company that produced Veggie Tales until its eventual crash in 2004. He'd built a multimillion dollar company from scratch and wrote a book about the entire process, what happened from day one until it ended. One of my favorite parts of the book is when he was talking about the physical obstacles and aids of creative process--things that affected his employees such as their work environment, pay etc... According to him, you have to submerge your artists into an environment that puts them in the "mood" to create, a stimulus to creativity so to speak. They had this gigantic fun factory of an office. Sculptures and characters were decorated all over the place along with complimentary gyms and meals, good meals. Google does the same thing. Watch any video about "a day in the life of a Google employee" and see the obscure treats Google give their employees--things that provide an environment that makes them comfortable such as never ending cereal supplies and places to get massages for free. Another example is I recently listened to a lecture that talked about an Australian company's policy, a company that deals with lots of programming and coding. This company decided that for ONE day every two months they were going to allow their employees to work on whatever project they so desired as long as it was some sort of progress--they could stop their assigned project and collaborate with a friend on a completely different task. The results? That ONE day's worth of work produces more patches and fixes to bugs and aids to production than the whole other two months. Why? The employees are Enjoying their work. They are working on something they are Passionate about. They work in total submersion to their own ideas--it is psychologically a change of scenery to an environment that They enjoy and are comfortable with.
Like I said, this is a ramble but it's about to make its way back home. How is an artist supposed to create awe-inspiring work of art that appeals to normal society intentionally? Besides having an understanding of the skills required to create the art, two ways: They need to be Passionate about it and they need to be a part of (or at least have an understanding of) the society of people they want to appeal to. Just like the companies I mentioned earlier put their employees into an environment whether physically or psychologically, ultimately they both get the to the same place psychologically, an artist needs to learn how to immerse him or herself into that moment and think...create. This is where I believe the creative process is at its most efficient and affective state, it's that moment where time has no priority and people find themselves skipping meals unknowingly. It is something that I am working hard to achieve and requires experimentation to see what I really enjoy working with. Maybe one day I'll get it all straightened out. :)
The picture I first posted is one taken by my Dad in Kenya that tugs at my heart. The phrase that I added to it, "Sometimes I try to remember the last time I had this problem" is one that pops into my head every time I see it. I manipulated it to a point that I felt like it properly conveyed the message I want others to see when they look at it which is the same thing I see when I look at it.
The following picture is another favorite of mine. I played a spin off stick-ball game using that water jug top in his hand with this boy and his friends for a solid half an hour. I made a connection with him, one that ultimately allowed me to capture this moment. The intense gaze of the already worn face of this young boy puts an intimacy between him and the viewer--the depth between the viewer and the photo is diminished and the viewer is placed directly within the same distance as the photographer, a conversational distance. People have asked me what my secret is to taking a good photo and my response is generally a shrug to avoid a long discussion, but what I really want to say is a majority of the substance of this whole post. Ever seen the difference between an unathletic person who tries really hard at a sport and someone who has the natural ability to be good at that same sport? Humans have an ability many times to discern what is natural versus what is forced. Photography is the same way. That sounds daunting and a little hard to hear, but it is actually really freeing. Don't force it. Yes, do things that may be difficult or hard, but that are intriguing. Have Fun with your subjects...love it. Do you love your children? Take pictures of your favorite parts about them. Do sunrises grip your imagination? That's when you need to pull out your camera. Does a specific hobo bring you to tears everyday at work? I'd put money on it that for the price of a hamburger he'd let you take pictures. You have to get over worrying and start doing. That's the difference.