I was looking at a photographers pictures recently trying to figure out what kind of advice I should give and having a difficult time of it, because I felt like they had perfectly decent pictures and they were a perfectly decent photographer, but I felt nothing for the images.
I recently re-watched the Johnny Cash movie, Walk The Line and even though it’s such a cliché for artists, it still sent tingles up my spine when the scene occurs where Johnny goes in to make his first record and runs into what must have been the most prescient record producer in the world, who delivers the mother of all lines to Johnny. Here’s how it goes in the movie:
Hold on. Hold on. I hate to interrupt… but do you guys got something else?
I ‘m sorry.
I can’t market gospel.No more.
So that’s it?
I don’t record material that doesn’t sell, Mr. Cash… and gospel like that doesn’t sell.
Was it the gospel or the way I sing it?
Well, what’s wrong with the way I sing it?
I don’t believe you.
You saying I don’t believe in God?
J.R., come on, let’s go.
No. I want to understand. I mean, we come down here, we play for a minute… and he tells me I don’t believe in God.
You know exactly what I’m telling you. We’ve already heard that song a hundred times… just like that, just like how you sang it.
Well, you didn’t let us bring it home.
Bring… bring it home? All right, let’s bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying… and you had time to sing one song, huh, one song… people would remember before you’re dirt… one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth… one song that would sum you up…
you telling me that’s the song you’d sing?
That same Jimmie Davis tune we hear on the radio all day? About your peace within and how it’s real and how you’re gonna shout it?
Or would you sing something different? Something real, something you felt?
Because I’m telling you right now… that’s the kind of song people want to hear.
That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash.
It has to do with believing in yourself.
I hear the train a coming, it’s rolling around the bend and I ain’t seen the sunshine since, I don’t know when…
That’s how I feel about photography right now. I want to see something real. I want to see something I haven’t seen a hundred times before. I want to look at pictures that make me feel something.