My Eternal Quest to Motivate Showing Up

I talk about this a lot. The idea that we can capture magic with our cameras, but we have to show up. Have to go out and find the photographs by getting out of our easy chair and out into the world, camera at the ready.

I was lying awake a couple nights ago thinking about how Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz would walk the streets of New York every day, often seeing each other while they were out working. Then I thought, perhaps I could walk one stretch every day. Though it’s not Manhattan, I have a small town, Longmont Colorado, which is about 10 blocks long just a stone’s throw away. I thought, “I could go there every day, park my car at one end and go up one side and back down the other side and see what I find, go there and photograph what grabs me.” Maybe some days nothing. Maybe something on other days.

So, yesterday I did it twice. Once in the morning as per my plan. And once again in the evening when I met a friend for a beer and then we followed it up with dessert downtown. Both times I shot a Rolleiflex with Ilford HP5+ loaded and both times I brought back photographs. It constantly reinforces the idea: You just have to show up.

So, that’s my latest foray. I’ll get some steps in no matter what. I’ll meet some people certainly, probably neighbors, maybe even future friends. And I just might end up with a breakfast burrito some mornings from Benny’s Tacos. No matter what, it’s a plan. It gets me out the door. It’s camera ready going somewhere.

So many times we can talk ourselves out of going anywhere with the thought, “There’s nothing worth photographing, everything’s boring.” Don’t you think Winogrand and Meyerowitz thought the same thing? Of course. But then they showed up again today.

Which is all it takes. We can’t do anything yesterday or tomorrow, so do it today.

Here are a couple photos from yesterday’s walk.

A portrait of a skater as he was waiting on the sidewalk for a ride.
A lonely chair in late evening sunlight.
Sanitizing the outdoor tables at a local restaurant.

And here are a couple of a writer friend who brought a one-act play he is working on to the brew pub that we read together.

Imagine any simple thing, then do it repeatedly, and you’ll end up with an amazing body of work from it. Time, frequency, makes it happen.

We can’t show up 100 or 1000 times. Just once. That’s what we can do today.

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Check out my YouTube Channel of Photography Talks: my 6×6 Portraits Blog (you’re here) and my Daily Photography Podcast. Thanks!

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