christmas still life

There is often a fine convergence of information landing in my Inbox.

From my friend Christine of Freehand Impressions this query arrived –

I think we are both over thinking this artistic journey.... Have you ever done Gretchen Rubin’s personality test for tendencies? Check it out and see what you come up as.... then let me know, and I’ll tell you what I am if you cannot guess...

I have indeed read both The Four Tendencies and Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin and recalled that I leaned toward the traits of an Upholder/Obliger. But somehow these old roles seem ill-fitting, like clothes that are now too tight. Out of curiosity, I visited Gretchen’s website and re-took the quiz. This time I landed squarely in the tendency of a Questioner.

According to the framework of the Four Tendencies -

Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense—in essence, they meet only inner expectations. They’re motivated by reason, logic, and fairness. They wake up and think, “What needs to get done today, and why?”

They decide for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea, and they resist doing anything that seems to lack purpose.

Because Questioners want to make well-considered decisions and come to their own conclusions, they tend to be intellectually engaged, and they’re often willing to do exhaustive research.

If they decide there’s sufficient basis for an expectation, they’ll follow it; they won’t follow it if they think it’s arbitrary, inefficient, or ineffective. They tend to take direction only from people they respect.

Reading the full report was affirming and helped me to understand myself. I do suffer from the dreaded “analysis-paralysis,” finding it difficult to make a decision and move forward, always wanting more information. One of my strategies for overcoming this tendency is to consult trusted authorities. In the case of my photography, I rely on a few mentors and sources that I have carefully vetted.

For example, I love the daily fine art posts from Lenscratch. This site introduces me to a wide variety of photographers and their art. Often posts include conversations and interviews with artists that shed light on their process and way of seeing. The days build upon one another such that I can sort and sift and discover those artistic methods that speak to me, those practices and approaches that I can bring into my own work.

And just like that, I’m inspired.

Such is the case with the New Jersey States Project Editor Kimberly Witham. Her still life photographs are based on the traditions of the Dutch Masters — featuring flora, fruit, and taxidermied animals.

Even when I think I have left still life photography behind, I have not.

The organized and meticulous nature of this kind of work can bring simplicity and contemplation to the forefront. But for me, this kind of work, making a picture, needs to be balanced with taking a picture. There is room for both.

I no longer fear beauty. These days, I can use as much beauty as I can find in the world.
— Kimberly Witham