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Sunday, 30 October 2011


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Prints ©2011 Michael C. Johnston, Esq.

Oddly enough, this is one of the most encouraging essays you've written. When you produce good stuff day after day, week after week, etc., it is good to know that even the most consistent writers have days when the old mojo tank is less than full. It proves you're human, and I was beginning to wonder about that.

Enjoy the game & be in the now.

It's the apple in the grass isn't it? Oh Boy, sign me up!

I read somewhere that in Navajo rugs, the maker deliberately includes a faulty knot somewhere, or a loose string or other small imperfection. It is meant to show that perfection is reserved for the gods, that to be human is to be flawed.

You could consider that essay the imperfect knot in this rich tapestry of a blog, an acknowledgement of your own humanity.

Mike: who is this photographer? He sounds like he's been damned by faint praise...;>)

With best regards,


Yes, one can have days like that, but thank you for all the essays you post on your better days.

Chill out Mike, we all have off days

I know just what you mean. Still, even Shakespeare had bad days.

Mike: only the mediocre are always at their very best. Buck up buckaroo, we'll root for ya any day of the week.

Ben Marks

P.S. Have you ever read or seen Shakespeare's "Cymbeline"? I rest my case.

Occasionally I'm amazed at how good you can be, too. Rather often actually.

Re the word omelet: c'est la vie.

I'm chillin' Merv!



If this minor photographer is so mediocre (I'll likely beg to differ) that you're constitutionally incapable of talking him up, the least he can do is show his gratitude for the exposure/name recognition he'll receive being featured in the print sale, and agree to 100% of the print sale proceeds go to TOP for its continued financial viability. :-)


BTW, is this artist going to be offering B&W, color, or a combination thereof?

Mike, a few times over the last week I've re-read your essays on natualism and began to think out a new comment, but was then distracted by your next post. I felt like saying: Take a break!

Hi Kirk - Here's a subject for your next essay... I nave noticed that 'men' mostly comment on photography blogs - especially if the subject has something to do with 'nuts and bolts'- men just love getting bogged down in all things technical! I'm a woman and have many other female artists & photographers as friends - mostly we couldn't give a fig about what makes a camera work, we just accept that it does the job we require of it and get on with the process of making images! I want to light a fire here by saying that I think women are more creative and men get more enjoyment out of the technical side of things - I wonder which of the sexes actually produce the most work? I'm not saying that volume equals quality or that women are going to scoop the pool and take up all the positions of top photographers in the world any time soon - no matter how liberated we think we are, we still have to fight the boy's club every step of the way!!

I'm commenting today on how valuable I find this blog, simply because I was late to yesterday's party, and this seems somehow an even more appropriate place to do so.


Mike, I read Kirk's latest entry and was inspired to comment to you. I read this blog every morning with my cup of coffee. It's one of the all too few blogs on the internet that I find stimulating and challenging. I read the other crap too, but I usually save this blog for last. I'm retired, but very active as a violinist and photographer, and I write a personal blog also. Kirk's entry was the butt kicker I needed. And usually this column, every morning, is the butt kicker I cherish to help me get off my lazy old ass and actually do something for the day.

Friday I processed 20 rolls of 36exp black and white in a changing bag, developing tank, and drying on a clothes rack on the back porch.
I discovered I had the chemicals, so I mixed them, and spent four hours in the kitchen, cooking.
Man, there was a lot of crap in there, some of it dating back YEARS. I spent a while just finishing off film for the sake of finishing it while it still was within the dates, and then it went into a closet because I REALLY could NOT muster the enthusiasm for developing it.
In every five rolls, maybe one keeper -- yup, about one in 400, three in a 1000.
Dawned on me, though, that those are about the averages for most of us, as photographers, unless we're being paid to be more intense, and the market is demanding what we do.
For most of us, though, the market isn't demanding what we do: it might humour us from time to time, keep us going, keep us functioning as picture takers, but it's not queuing up to compel us to action.
Do what you do, as you want, not so much as you might think we demand.
Your odds are better than mine.
And I really do have to renew my B&W skills...

"Mike, If this minor photographer is so mediocre (I'll likely beg to differ) that you're constitutionally incapable of talking him up, the least he can do is show his gratitude for the exposure/name recognition he'll receive being featured in the print sale"

He'll probably be grateful. His little website didn't do so well in October, earnings-wise at least.


The ability to discard or set aside a piece of work after investing too much time is the mark of a serious, honest and experienced writer. It's usually a relief to the writer and a kindness to the reader.

Mike, I don't think you were having a bad day as a writer at all. A good writer knows when to edit, when to cull, when to discard no matter how much work went into it. Would that more writers exercised such editorial discipline.

I've said it before in the comments, you sure can write. We all know it. We're happy to wait more than a day sometimes.

Will Rogers said, "As soon as you notice that you are in a hole, stop digging."

"I've said it before in the comments, you sure can write."

Thanks Richard. I don't feel that way sometimes.



The photographer in question might want to consider the fact that many people in the NorthEast might not have power by Monday and would be sorely disappointed if they missed out on this...

Best regards,

Two things: Omelets... there's a recent article in the NYT where the great chef Jacques Pepin shows you how. Haven't tried it yet though. And perhaps the toughest part of your job is to write well and be interesting every day. Which you do- press on regardless!

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