A Breakthrough: Getting to the Why

What’s your question? We were having a round table discussion with the new head of the research institute.  This was what she had asked the person sitting closest to her, and now were going to go around the table with our answers.

What’s my question? I didn’t have a question.  I had a research project, but not a question. I eventually realized that what she wanted was to know about my research project and I survived the encounter.  As a student I was still at a point of developing an understanding of the tools and a perspective of the field to be able to ask a meaningful question.  It was another couple of years before I reached that point.

This episode came back to me recently when I was thinking about vision, voice and style. I’m getting to a point now where I feel that I can operate the camera reasonably well and occasionally make some images that I’m pleased with. I have a messy process but I’m getting there.  I now have the tools to be able to ‘ask a question’ or in essence to realize my vision.  For me, this is both fun and scary at the same time.  I’ve focused very much on learning how to operate a camera and the basic rules of composition, ‘the how’, that ‘the why’ didn’t enter into my thinking.  It’s hardly surprising really.  We are continually bombarded with technical articles and books and yet there are very few that focus on the why.

Why are the so few books that focus on ‘the why’?  Perhaps because ‘the why’ is much less tangible and less amenable to a cookie cutter approach.  That if you are to go beyond the obvious there needs to be an understanding of who you are, what resonates with you and how you wish to present that to the world.  This is where I find myself now, at the beginning of a new phase and very much looking forward to the journey.

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