Respect narrowly defined, is examined here in this Wiki link.
One of the key elements for a creative in a study of any sort, is respect of subject. But here is the twist. One has to respect one’s self first. If that aspect is not nailed to the floor of a soul, the oft times hidden elements of a subject, may never reveal themselves to an artist.
But once those things do become apparent, it is self knowledge that allows for us to pick accurate lanes whereby we may expose, illuminate, and from where I stand as a human being, elevate our chosen subject, for all the world to see. It is in our own self discovery that there lies great success in communicating people, places and things that frequently, are so special and precious, a more casual observer, in this hectic, ” rush to see what lies over the horizon, modern contemporary culture”, would completely miss otherwise.
So how does this tenet come to abide within us? How do we learn to walk in respect, while still getting our probing and often intrusive job done? Easy really. You put SELF, last.
For those of you who know me or my life and work very intimately, you get that I have complete disdain for selfishness, especially within the realm of basic Commercial Photography. I truly believe what we do to be simple. So if that is the case, we ought never to be on stage. But ALWAYS out of sight. Our job is about servitude.
I learned something very important working in Motion Picture as a set stills photographer. Always stay out of the talent’s eye line. Of course, that is easier for me, being 5’5″. I dress for the background we shoot in. Blimp my camera, or use longer lenses if it is possible for me to stay out of the set’s staging area. I just follow the DP, and the shooting script. I do my job. Document. Iconize the peak moments of a scene. Simple really. For some people.
When I came into Photography and Film making, I had a conversation with Editor Jeff Divine after he had given me my first cover. At the time, I had closed my rather high profile Company and stepped out of both Radio and Television Broadcast work, having just turned down the opportunity to be a co host on a Nationally Syndicated talk show. I was done being looked at. So I figured, what better place to hide than behind the camera?
Jeff knew what I was working towards. I confided to him that I disliked the attention I had received from the latest cover shot, and like a distressed and somewhat selfish child of a budding imaging creative, I complained. “You know Jeff, I only chose Photography because I reckoned that I could become anonymous. I just wanted it to be about someone else finally, and not be at the head of everything” Jeff looked at me and with that soft smile of his, shook his head and said “It is going to be far worse than anything else before in your life David. What were you thinking?”
Well he was sort of right. But just sort of. I doubled down on my efforts to remain anonymous. I even went into stock Photography production in signing a contract with burgeoning Commercial giant Corbis Images, where I figured that surely in a stable of great names, alive and dead, whose work was being pushed to the fore, I could just disappear. But all that did was raise the bar.
Having been a competitive athlete and businessman, I found myself just slowly one upping my colleagues. And they liked that. In fact, I think we all shoved each other along. Great names in stills and motion picture imaging. People who I had read of and whose works I had admired all my life.
But in being around those great creatives, I noticed something about them. They NEVER let it be about THEM. They walked in respect, for themselves and as a result, elevated the myriad of subjects which comprised their daily lives. I will never forget the day that Steve Davis, Corbis VP, looked a bunch of us in the eyes in a meeting, and said something which changed my perspective permanently. “You all have the opportunity to chose anything in the world to shoot and communicate. We will even help you do it. There is nothing or anyone that is off limits. However, choose very carefully, because your choices will become what you are.
I have thought about that meeting often over the years. It is pretty amazing what I get to film, and who I get to live with on a daily basis, and what the world reveals to me.
But none of it would ever have meant a thing really, were it not for respect.
I read something recently, said by Duke Kahanamoku about himself. It resonated for me.
“Out of the water, I am nothing. ”
As creatives, we all need to realize that aside from what we examine and build, that without the flow and respect which comes from an intimate understanding regarding the nature of our subject(s), ALL of our work is nothing. It should be something. But more than that, what we do should elevate our subjects, and motivate, and propel all forward.
Creativity is Love is Creation.
Go do that.
Watch what happens.
That is your job. It is life to a Creative.
As an aside. Each one of the images in this blogpost is an abject lesson on Respect and has a great story behind it. Feel free to ask me about any of them some time. You may be surprised at what you learn.