A stairway is a means to an end, a way to get from one level to another. But sometimes, the “means” can be separated from the “end.” It becomes important in itself, like this stairway in the attic of Casa Battlo in Barcelona. Yes, it’s a stairway. That’s the obvious and practical “end.” But it is a beautiful work of art, nicely framed and ready to be enjoyed, in it’s own right. The “means” develops an identity on its own, a purpose of its own, without considering the intended “end.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of creating art, creating my photography. The process of creating – of noticing and seeing and capturing and playing – is as important as the end result. The photo that I present here each day is just the obvious and practical end of my art, like the purpose of a stairway to get you from one level to the next. But the fact is that the process, the means, is probably more important to me, the creator. That’s why I continue to create, why all artists continue to create. If it wasn’t, we’d all be done with the first work of art we are really happy with, especially if we aren’t doing this for a living. (Getting paid for art is another kind of wonderful “end” for the artistic process.)
Ursula K. LeGuin said, “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
The journey, for me, is the creation of the photograph. The beauty of this “means” being it’s own “end” is that process of creating is not finite, is an ongoing, never-ending, renewable resource. Infinite. Regardless of what I created or shared yesterday, I have more to create today and tomorrow.
Isn’t that an incredibly positive and exciting way to think about it? I encourage you to think of your art, whether it’s photography or writing or cooking or yoga, in the same way. The end is not the purpose of the creative process, the means is!