A Thousand Forks in the Road
There was a time in my life when making a photograph was a relatively simple thing in so much that I had only one option — I could make a black and white gelatin silver print. Period. I never did learn platinum/palladium printing; I never worked in color; multi-projector slide shows were considerably outside my budget; and audio and video were for broadcast professionals.
How far we've come in just a few years. Because of the technological advances available to all of us, I now commonly work in prints, multimedia PDFs, video, book publication, publications for iPads and other digital devices, and most recently in artist-made chapbooks. Hooray for the technology — but what complicated layer of decision-making this has added to my creative life.
I'm currently working on, roughly, a hundred different photographic projects. This is not an exaggeration. Some I am just beginning, a few I'm near the end, and a huge pile in the middle are stuck because I'm having a hard time deciding which medium I will use for its completion. This has grown into a thoroughly unexpected sticking point in my creative process.
For example, with any given project I can easily see it as a series of black and white prints. That's easy, I've done it my entire life. But I can also see it completed as one of these other, newer media. Anything that could become a stack of prints could just as easily become a PDF, a video, a slideshow, and iPad app — or all of the above! Essentially, the technology has made it easier to finish an image (dodging, burning, etc.), but far more difficult to finish a project.
I shouldn't complain. In spite of the fact that finishing the project is become more complicated, I have no doubt that I'm producing the best artwork of my life. I suspect what's missing is a solution for this decision-making process for which I am not prepared nor am I trained.
I don't ever remember the discussion of media options cropping up in a workshop in my youth. What I wouldn't give to trade a few of those long-lost Zone System tutorial hours for a little help in how to think through the forest of possibilities that are the beginnings of every project in today's world.