Loading Selected Work...
Menu

ART 2013: a perceptible difference

For the past two years I’ve been working on a job evaluation project where our plan is to convert to a new system of measuring a job’s relative worth. The new system we are adopting is founded on Weber’s law which states that differences are not noticeable until they reach a certain threshold. I believe originally the concept was tested around dimensions that could be quantitatively measured like the weight of objects. For example, the difference in weight between two objects would have to be at least 15% before anyone could feel they did not weigh the same. This is referred to as the just-noticeable difference. When the difference is greater than 15% then there is no doubt that the objects are different weights. The theory has been challenged when applied to non-quantitative areas such as measuring job worth but entire pay systems for some of the world’s leading companies have been built around the belief that it does apply.

Past attendees at ART might very well understand this principle in relation to their photography. Following our round table sessions some of us have found our photographic journey slows down considerably as we absorb what we’ve learned over the weekend we’ve spent together. One person has even asked an ART participant if he was ok because he noticed he had stopped regularly posting pictures on his blog. It takes a long time to process all the information and discussions at ART because it is so transformational. But as we wait for the change to be noticeable in our work, it can be frustrating. Attendees who continue the conversation with others in the group have discussed how we know we are at the cusp of a breakthrough but it feels like a breakdown. But in the stillness of this time, there’s a small but growing whisper, a call to do something different from what we imagined. I call this period of time before the breakthrough, working in the 15%. We are making progress but we just can’t see it.

So how do we know we are moving forward if we can’t see a perceptible difference in our images? One indication is a change in our thinking. A breakthrough is always preceded by a shift in thinking. It can be very small but it starts to gain hold as we connect seemingly unrelated dots. I’ve noticed this in some others who have attended ART but I will use myself as an example. Last year almost every weekend, sometimes twice, I went to the summer night markets. I amassed thousands of pictures but by the end of the summer, I decided the project wasn’t right. A year before, the notion of spending so much time photographing for a project and then not sharing it would have never entered my mind. Even more so because I had spent four months talking about the project and sharing images from it so in a sense I was admitting failure. Surprisingly I was ok with this. I trusted the strong sense I had that the work wasn’t right and I have no regrets about mothballing the project. (By the way, the night market will start up again in May and I’ll see if I can do the work I want to do this summer.)

If you are up to this kind of challenge to your photography, we’d love to see you at ART in Port Townsend this year from July 11 to 14. The deadline to send Ray Ketcham your expression of interest is March 31. You’ll find the details here. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send an email.

 

Share

9 Comments

  1. Erin Wilson
    March 25, 2013

    “we know we are at the cusp of a breakthrough but it feels like a breakdown” Amazing how similar these things feel.

    I think of you every time I leave the house here in Santiago, Sabrina. I’ve never been anywhere where there are so many dogs! Everywhere. And somehow they all seem to look healthy and most are super mellow. I often what you would make of this canine immersion 🙂

    Reply
    • Sabrina
      March 25, 2013

      I need to visit you in Santiago, Erin–it sounds like just the place for me to add to my Urban Dog series. When I was in Thailand, there were many dogs there too but they had a high carb diet (mainly rice) and they always walked with such purpose that I felt I had to get out of their way. The only other time to get a photograph was when they were sleeping in the midday heat but I remembered someone once told me to only photograph animals with their eyes open otherwise people might think they were dead! 😀

    • Erin Wilson
      March 30, 2013

      Oh my! Thank you for that. You’re right about eyes open on the dogs!

  2. Charlene
    March 25, 2013

    That was a very compelling write up Sabrina. ART 2013 sounds like it is going to be amazing.

    Reply
    • Sabrina
      March 25, 2013

      We are very much looking forward to it Charlene and July is a great time to be in PT!

  3. Ken Udle
    March 25, 2013

    Sabrina, I don’t know about the other participants, I found I was reading more researching ideas and photographers that were discussed at IDEA 2012. Eventually I started taking pictures more often, just not as many as before. Great post.

    Reply
    • Sabrina
      March 25, 2013

      Thanks Ken. I think we figured out there is much more to making pictures than just clicking the shutter and I for one, have been enjoying all the IDEA discussions as well. So glad you were a part of ART 2012 and continue to be part of our community. oxo

  4. Domestic Executive
    March 27, 2013

    I know exactly what you mean. At one time I would post anything, just because I felt I should. Finding what you love and working at it is much more fun :o)

    Reply
  5. Tearsheet: Rear Curtain Issue 4 | JerseyStyle Photography
    July 24, 2013

    […] As Winter shed its label and Spring emerged, I sent everything off to the RC team. I knew they were working hard on the issue, but they, too, all have full-time jobs. This is a labor of love for them. Plus they were planning and getting ready for ART 2013. […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply