Much further in.

Sometimes, it’s worth the time to look inside. Of anything.

I’ve been looking inside myself since mid-lockdown. We have no need to go there today. Looking inside of things that may be near and dear to its is another matter entirely.

For me, that really is only three things. Photography, art, and music.

For sure, family and friends matter as much or more as those external cares. They are for another day.

Photography and music are in about the same place. Earning a living is harder than ever because of disruption and democracy. Just look at Bandcamp or Instagram. There are so many people who want to enter some kind of creative business that they have diluted the production pool to the point that it takes a curator to find anything worth listening to, or viewing.

It’s worthwhile to say that there may be some gems lurking in pile of music and photographs but finding them isn’t easy. It’s also true that everybody deserves a chance. It’s even truer that everybody deserves to be paid properly.

That’s the catch.

Newbees have no idea what their work is worth so they give it away for pennies. WordPress even recommends a site where all the pictures are free. Modify the picture and you can lay your copyright on it.

Huh?

Musicians have always been poorly paid until they reach the higher levels. Even then there is a fight over percentages.

I wish I had some idea of what to do. The genie is out of the bottle as they say. It isn’t going back. Some of my friends have turned their careers into something else. One is trying to make pure art. Another is sort of becoming a photojournalist in Mexico. He has one particular story in mind.

That’s all good. They’ll probably grow. But, then what? Is the work they are making a sort of placeholder for something else?

That’s what I feel like I’m doing. Projects and Storyteller aside, I have no idea of my REAL way forward. Or, if there isn’t even one.

I make a good living doing my musical thing. I haven’t seen much for it in the last year. For sure, that’s a pandemic thing. But, nobody knows when it will start again. Sheesh. Blue Note is offering 20% discounts on music that has barely been heard yet. They have to make some return on their investment.

Where do I go from here and now?

I was thinking about a grocery store. People need to eat. Right? I have no idea how to run a grocery story. That shouldn’t stop me. After all the people who decimated my industries didn’t know what they were doing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Follow all the rest and don’t get complacent. Enjoy all the things you love. Everyday.

That wasn’t a rant. Dammit. That was a state of my life as it relates to my work. I truly have no idea what’s next.

I do know that I’m very tired and bored of making pictures like these.

Oh sure, they document the seasons and nature in Southeastern Louisiana.

Scroll through my archives for the last ten years. The pictures repeat themselves. Not once or twice, but for every season that I’ve been back. Forty seasons.

Yes. I documented the culture. I photographed every second line during my first six years here. I photographed every Indian event I could find. Don’t get me started on Mardi Gras.

A photographer whose work I am very fond of, photographs long projects. They are usually three of four years of production. He was asked how he knows a project is finished.

When I start repeating myself was his response.

I’ve been repeating myself for years. Even the cultural pictures are blurred to me. All I see are the changing colors.

I’ve been putting off photographing my project. I have a hard time understanding why I am doing it. For myself isn’t an answer. What could it bring to the world is really what matters?

Maybe I should take my own advice. My buddy in Mexico wrote me a long email about his project. He was talking about magazine pieces, books, gallery and museum shows, grants and on and on.

No worries. He’s capable of making the pictures.

My answer was short and to the point. “Forget all of that. Just make the pictures.”

Good advice. Maybe I should take it.