Reflections on Packard
At the end of the day (or in this case, the week) when I get home and download my photos I’m not totally sure of what I have. There might be one or two that I though for sure were keepers when viewed on my little camera screen, but fail miserably once viewed in full resolution. I’ve worked hard to become a better photographer, and when I look a the photos I took 5 years ago I can see the difference all my hard work has made. This trip was a bit of a humbling experience, we had 7 days and two cities to burn through with very little knowledge of where our desired locations were, with the exception of the main attractions of Packard and Armour. It is very easy for me to look at the mass of photographs I took and weep for how many were abject losers and count the winners as being a matter of luck over a matter of skill. It is true that for every 300 or so photos you’re bound to get at least one good one just a matter of luck, but I think I managed to do better than that, as did Tabula Rasa.
It is, however, easy to berate oneself over the shots not taken, the perspective missed. Every time I go to a new location and spend time photographing it that night is spent in uneasy speculation over what I could have done differently, the vision I thought I saw that did not appear in the image I captured. The endless questioning of why a photo didn’t turn out the way I wanted, and why I didn’t stop for a moment to catch that stray ray of light piercing through the gloom of a fire blackened room. This trip was exhilarating and intense for all of the highs and lows and new places seen, but depressing for all the perceived missed opportunities. I don’t regret it one bit for all that. I will always ask myself if I could have done a better job of it, and the answer will always be, “Probably.” No matter how skilled I become as a photographer, even in my middle-of-the-road state, I am thrilled I had the chance to be where I was and take the photos that I did. Even if most of them are crap.
For all the troubles I had with my gear (a malfunctioning lens as well as an unfamiliar and substandard tripod), I came away from St. Louis, from Detroit and most importantly from Packard with quite a few new lessons learned and more than 4 or 5 good photos. Sure, some of them may not be print worthy, but I still feel I can display them with pride, and I did find some gold that wasn’t merely a matter of luck. It was a matter of seeing what was there and capturing it with the skills that I have despite the limitations I was under. A year ago I would never have seen these images, I would have walked right past them and never known I had missed them. Perhaps when we return to these locations in a year or two we will wonder how we ever managed to walk past certain things, or we will be able to capture what we saw previously yet lacked the skill to catch. I don’t even know if these locations will be around by then, but I am glad that I went when I did, saw what I saw, and that I managed to catch a gossamer thread of the magic these places hold.