Each of you reading this should know, if you don’t already, that I’m not an expert on Vespa scooters, riding or anything pertaining to the management and maintenance of machines and devices. I ride, learn and try not to be an Enthusiastic Amateur.
The other day I was riding in the remains of morning fog. On the road two hours too late to really experience the full magic of the ground hugging clouds, I wandered from one side of the Nittany Valley to the other in hopes of entering a surreal landscape.
Later, looking at the photographs of the Vespa facing a world that the fog could conjure, I thought about what I’ve learned about riding, riding in fog and other weathers and how much I want to avoid being an Enthusiastic Amateur.
That label was explained to me by an art director I had the good fortune to work with at Penn State — the late James J. McClure. He assigned that term to individuals who presented themselves as photographers because they had an expensive camera, made pictures in far flung places, and managed to make correct exposures and create images in focus. A parallel with scooter and motorcycle riders has not escaped me.
Jim went on that the Enthusiastic Amateur lacks a deeper interest or understanding of the process they were part of or the ability to integrate it into their own seeing. They don’t grow as a photographer. It remains a technical performance of steps never to be questioned or pushed to another level. Their achievement — images that are simultaneously technically proficient and almost always boring. Or predictable. Their work is an endless repetition of a familiar, comfortable set of steps.
McClure was always after, “Surprising and Delightful.”Continue Reading