Process Not Perfection / by Ron Cowie

I attended Fotofest in 2001. I had the chance to talk with with Burt Finger of Photos Do not Bend Gallery. He and his wife Missy sold me my first piece of art: Keith Carter Dog Ghost.

We were talking about life and art during a break. I was 31 at the time and very much into being a deep and profound artist. Burt was patient, kind, and quick to laugh. Still is.

I’ll never forget what he said, “When I came back from Vietnam, I swore I’d never be petty. I’d never take anything for granted, Every day will be a gift. You know what, Ron, it didn’t take too long for me to get right back to being petty and taking everything for granted.”

In 2001, my first wife Lisa Garner, was still alive and in the next room. I felt I had the world at my feet. The only really painful stuff I had experienced could be chalked up to witnessing the normal progression of life: deaths, breakups, 8th grade graduation.

I’ll be 49 this year. I’d like to say I’m more more reflective and less petty. I have experienced a portion of joy and pain associated with being on the planet and loving people while I’m at it. I take it all for granted more often than not. It’s part of being human. No one among us can maintain perfect spiritual balance all the time. That isn’t my  problem. My problem is thinking that I can’t function until such is the case.

I’m a 48 year old confused artist who hasn’t really made anything of comment for a while who says “I’ll never take anything for granted.” while watching movies about a dead artists who couldn’t take anything for granted.

However, just for today, I’m not going to take it for granted (fearful) and say “I’ll take pictures or write tomorrow.” Today, I remember that conditions are never ideal to work. Creativity needs something to work against.

Keith Carter, wrote on one of his cameras “It’s your job”. Just take the damn picture and forget how you feel. The obstacles and distractions are not there to punish you for having an idea, but there to direct your actions to the parts that need more attention.

In that spirit, have a great day.