"It's the Process not the Product" - musings on My Louisiana Muse, Alternative Processes and Photography

These last few weeks have been very, very trying. There have been many high moments and just as many moments of doubt. As I have embarked on relearning a very difficult alternative photographic process I once thought I had in the bag, I have learned so much about myself, my craft, and the many amazing artists in My Louisiana Muse. I have struggled over my processes, my water bath temperatures (which are VERY hard to regulate due to the ground water temp in NOLA in August...), my fixer dilution (was it stock? was it mixed properly?), why is the lith ink not spreading right? I was driving myself into a tunnel of self doubt with fatigue as my co-pilot. But that's over.

I truly now believe the process is the journey and the product is secondary to how we got there. I can’t tell you the last time I really truly learned something about looking at a photograph I made. There it is, it's done. Move right along...

Don’t get me wrong! I love photography. I love my work as well. I value that "moment in time" that TRUTH expressed in a way that no other has. But for, the backstory is where it’s at. The final product is pretty but it's just a door: I want to know where you are, what it smells like, what and who was there before and how can I visit that ONE SPOT.

And so the journey that allows me to produce an image is where the reward is its greatest for me. By the time the image is up on a wall, in a book, or backlit to no end, the knowledge has been passed on and I have moved on. In the case of working a Bromoil from each artist portrait from My Louisiana Muse, I have emerged from my own alternative process boot camp to a new awareness and perspective. I see myself differently. I see the artist differently. I see Louisiana differently. As I take each swollen silver print from its water bath I notice the frailty of it s gelatin and the excited promise of it accepting ink. With each brush stroke I am rebuilding the shadows like retelling an old story with a new angle. I am wiping away highlights like one would pepper a white lie on a fishing story. The moment is now ours. The moment is now yours. But how we got here, is always what we hold on to when we leave...

* my gratitude to Christoper James in his intro to "The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes 2nd ed." - you got it right man.

* sincere humble gratitude to the highest for Sam Urrate for bringing me back to solid ground I always knew I had.