Over the span of my creative life, I've come to realize one very pertinent thing: I enjoy a challenge. Fireworks? Huge challenge. A fast paced, intense, enormously fun and slightly frustrating challenge. The composition is next to impossible and is more an exercise in chance than anything else; it forces me to think quickly about adjusting settings and hones my understanding of the best combinations for the situation; it's loud and chaotic and unpredictable and almost meditative in the necessity to be very much in the present moment with whatever is going on.
I love it.
There is something humbling and magical in the process and the unpredictability - sifting through the 300+ images from a half-hour event and knowing that a handful of shots might be good, but having little idea about the rest of them. If you were following my Instagram account in August, you'll have seen the range of "wow!" and "hm, interesting..." that resulted from our local fireworks festival this past summer. What I didn't show are some of the shots that didn't make the cut. I find it important to show the failures as well as the successes in this experimental realm - seeing the end results, it might seem like there is a high success rate to this, but in reality it's about 3% for the wow shots and about 10% for the very interesting. I don't know about other artists' and photographers' success rates; perhaps theirs are higher when working with more predictable mediums and less haphazardly shifting subject matter. For me, though, the process of such wild variation is what makes this work so engaging. Shoot a lot, keep putting your skills to work, enjoy the process, and maybe chance will shine through the chaos with a success or two. Some of the failures are amusing, though, like this one:
It's not worth printing or perhaps even posting, but it made me laugh. A total miss. Fantastic! Here are some others, picked at random:
They're kiiiiiiinda interesting, but not quite. I have a lot of these. Hundreds. I keep them. Why? The first sorting is where the "wow!" shots leap out, but go back months later with fresh eyes and new experiences, and other shots speak in new ways. Like this last one - overlooked the first time, but with new experiences in the intervening months, it has a peculiar calmness that appeals to me. That blue in particular. Magic.