Visit with Jim – Reframe, Refrain, Reorient

Today’s post walks through reframing and the power it has to change what we see and think.  Often with both the problem and solution lying right in front of us.   My atypical use of a camera is the reason why I enjoy this photographic artform.  I have a chance to break the rules and reframe how a conventional camera creates art.  Several posts have explored why a standard approach to photography felt empty.  Once I was able to create a style that broke enough conventions and rules, the artistic output became distinctly mine.  I had agency over the equipment, technique and art.  By reframing the use of four principle components: Oil, Inks, Glass and Air, a nearly infinite arena unfolded in front of me. 

The parallels to some life moment for are stand out.  As a paramedic, high angle rescuer and as an emergency physician, moments of satisfaction came to me when emergent conditions required innovation.  Conventional solutions would not and did not work.  A new solution was required – reframing.   As an administrative physician, my teams have always been encouraged to look at solutions through conventional means.  Then when those approaches do not work we work to reframe and reframe until we have several options to consider and put into action. That exercise is powerful.  It encourages thinking and solutions.  It is creative and opens the mind.  It encourages curious questions across the table and begs further exploration. 

Equipment from my past informs
me to reframe how to use equipment from my present and future

So too in my artwork I use the phrase – What would happen if?  My piece this week is entitled Stochastic.  Randomness, disordered, unpredictable would be synonyms. So the piece would seem to be just that.  Yet it is the result of placing several of the key elements across a glass surface and using air create movement to generate patterns.  Asking the question and encouraging that randomness at the outset allows for unpredictable results that are beautiful.  Advanced mathematics and today’s computing power might argue this is predictable.   I will freely admit that there are piles of less than great outcomes, but that is the chance we take going down this road. 


Jacob Berghoef - And the Wind Touched...

A few years ago a colleague in Florida asked if he could give me a piece of advice about some of the focus on my earlier photos and said it was essential to have some or all of it crisply in focus.  It struck me that the suggestion was well intended, and relevant to a select set of images, but not appropriate to many of them.  The movement and depth of field blurring are essential.  Tying into the above reframing application of the technology of cameras, blurring is also an active movement of the camera in a manner that can result in no identifiable subject.  A LinkedIn connection uses a camera in this manner and creates an entire photo that is out of focus.  

Yet a beautiful compelling set of, what appear to be, brush strokes of pastels, light and dark fill the print in a most interesting manner.   It is a photograph, yet appears to be a painting.   Another is a photographer uses a raindrops on dirty glass to create a wonderful palette of colors and countless dots of light that both break up the object to be indiscernible and yet deeply intriguing.  Paris, the City of Lights, has a whole new perspective. 

This topic popped into view and energized me while listening to a podcast The Hidden Brain hosted by Shankar Vedantam.  Oddly, the episode was about complaining. It was fascinating, as are most of his explorations.  The part that struck me was the use of reframing to redirect someone who was complaining. 


The guest on his show was a speaker who used several examples of how reframing can redirect a complaining party.  Asking them questions to refrain and reorient the predicament led to a shift in mindset that moved to solutions.   Asking curious questions intended to elicit a series of responses can redirect someone who is ensnared in their negative thinking to develop agency over the problems at hand and empower them to self-solve.  Asking them questions to refrain and reorient the predicament led to a shift in mindset that moved to solutions.   Asking curious questions intended to elicit a series of responses can redirect someone who is ensnared in their negative thinking to develop agency over the problems at hand and empower them to self-solve.  

There it was in front of me.  It was my camera dilemma!!  I always loved the equipment, but always frustrated by the lack of creativeness on my part.  It had been emulation and duplication of others.  At the time there was no creativity or soul in it for me.  It is simplicity itself.  As is the case in so many circumstances, if we reframe, refrain and reorient we can plot the course or direction that is needed for us to pursue a new and better direction.  Step by step, over many years, I have ended up in this place because of a series of Stochastic steps that incrementally moved me here.  Stretches beyond standard technique, accepted norms and continued commitment to delivering to this community, abstract photography that has soul, emotion and a distinct voice.  

So for me perhaps it is now about very intentional reframing and refraining to reorient and move more effectively in a direction.  A direction that is needed at work.  A direction that is needed for my team.  A direction that is essential to my future and my passion.  In last week’s post, I mused about the arc of one’s life and second acts.  I need to dwell a bit more and more deeply on the stochastic versus deterministic approach to be considered.  Where is the sweet spot between architecting by intention and creating by reframing and lateral thinking?   There is a conflict between the two that requires a balance.  Where does the balance lie?


This week, I won an award for a set of three framed photographs at a Richmond Art show.  More on this soon enough. For the background as it related to this post, I watched was literally watching paint dry which is supposed to be unexciting.  I simply place two puddles of inks on a piece of glass and did nothing.  That was the – What would happen if? – experiment.   The black and white inks sat there.  Gravity and surface tensions played upon them pulling them down to flatten out and spread apart.  The camera was ready and steadily fired off shots to capture the excruciatingly slow ‘action’.  They neared each other as though sentient. They gently touched.  Unforced … unencouraged … unhindered.  Simply allowing the properties of nature to unfold.  Once they touched, there was a progressive seeming exploration of each other.   What can we learn from the liquids? What metaphors are there to be considered, discussed and explored? All from the three step act of reframe, refrain, reframe applied to photography and the four basic elements: Oil, Inks, Glass and Air. 

Join me in a fireside chat via Zoom in the evening to discuss any aspect of my artwork.  To qualify, and join a video conversation send your contact information here and let me know what you would want to talk about.  The selected participants will receive a 25% discount on any of my unlimited edition pieces of art.  I will personally sign the piece at printing.  Even more, the gallery is offering this purchase risk free for you. Free shipping, Free return, and no questions asked if you are unhappy with the art work.  You can keep the print for 30 days to enjoy the selection in your home or office. This risk free offer does not apply to metal, acrylic and other specialized media prints.





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