Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sam Thinks He Can . . . Act Traditionally

Tradition is important. The concept of doing something just because that is how it has been done in the past can prove dangerous without an understanding of the importance of tradition. In carrying out traditions, we repeat previous actions, either personally undertaken or carried out by our predecessors, because the actions have meaning to us. They signify something more than blind repetitiveness. They are guides to suggest appropriate behavior. Accordingly, traditions make us think about our behavior and drive us to act in a manner that will maintain the tradition meaningfully for those who follow us.

The image of a Tommy's "Heavy Chili, Heavy Pickles Double Cheeseburger" shown above clearly illustrates my point. I ate that cheeseburger. In 1974. In Los Angeles. But before I ate it, I photographed it with a brand new 105mm Micro Nikkor macro lens. In so doing, I started a tradition.

For the past 23 years, whenever I get a new lens, I think carefully about the first image I will capture with the glass. I was so pleased with the photograph of the cheeseburger that I made it a lifelong commitment to choose each new lens' first image carefully. Guided by this commitment, I always hope that the success achieved in 1974 can be repeated. It has become a tradition, signifying my devotion to my avocation and sealing the relationship between me and new equipment.

At this point, it would feel disrespectful to use a new lens to "snap" an image without regard to the weight of 33 years of tradition. I like to think that my tradition makes me a better photographer. It forces me to think about what I am doing with my new equipment and how I can use it to achieve the high standard set years ago.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Thats neat dad, I never knew that.