This secret spoke Life herself unto me: “Behold,” said she, “I am that which must ever surpass itself.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
I write these words on the edge of a storm. To the east, a wall of slate-grey sky is slowly making its way into the canyon country and toward Colorado; to the west the Mummy cliffs, adorned in new snow, glow red below a band of turquoise sky. Birds that seemed absent just moments ago are now chirping and fluttering around. The place morphs with the hours and the days. Another small storm is approaching beyond, and more transformations are in store. The only constant in this existence: change.
An off-hand remark in a recent email exchange had been on my mind this morning. A friend asked simply: “so, are you a B&W photographer now?” Hmm … I have a hard enough time with the confines of “photographer,” let alone narrower labels. It’s true, I had been making more B&W images as of late, but, is there a threshold? Is there a bell that rings after a certain amount of time had elapsed and necessitates re-categorization? Is it time to peel off the old label and slap on a new one or risk the dire consequences of falling victim to a filing error? Will the fabric of the cosmos fall apart if I decide to make another color image tomorrow?
The strange thing is that I did not, at any point, feel that I was doing anything different from what I had been doing for many years now: charting the waters of life; seeking experiences; being the author, narrator and protagonist of my journey; telling stories, evolving my skills of articulating them in words and images, color and B&W, whichever works best for a given situation.
There are, indeed, realms of art where consistency and tradition are valued. Still, there is a difference between sticking to a tradition and being stuck in it. Tradition should not be synonymous with stagnation. Tradition is, and always had been, building upon the accomplishments of the past, recognizing its less-glamorous aspects and moving beyond them. Progress toward greater knowledge, skill and enlightenment is the greatest tradition of all.
So, no, I’m not a B&W photographer now. I’m a human being, an artist, a teller of stories, who, sometimes, makes B&W images, and, sometimes, not.
About the Author (Author Profile)Guy Tal is a published author and photographic artist. He resides in a remote part of Utah, in a high desert region known as the Colorado Plateau – a place that inspired him deeply for much of his life and that continues to feature in his images and writing. In his photographic work, Guy seeks to articulate a reverence for the wild. He writes about, and teaches, the values of living a creative life and finding fulfillment through one’s art.
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