“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham
I’m not sure I would have survived as a film photographer. I wouldn’t have had the patience. We’re all spoiled in the Digital Age, with tiny computer chips and gorgeous LCD screens satiating our need for instant gratification. I love pressing that shutter button and seeing the picture on the spot. Darkrooms and processing trays? Not for me. I’d rather spend more time shooting.
Imogen Cunningham knew all about processing trays. Born in 1883, Cunningham majored in chemistry at the University of Washington because it would make her a better photographer. Talk about committing to her craft.
Cunningham, who passed away in 1976 at the age of 93, also knew that there are always more photos to be taken, and more opportunities to improve as an artist. You can’t be satisfied with your work because the next great shot is out there, somewhere, waiting to be captured.
The only way to improve at anything is to put in the work, and Cunningham’s quote served as an affirmation that she’d be out there tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, looking for that shot. It also speaks to an optimism that, no matter how much I may like this photo that I took today, I’ll take one tomorrow that I’ll like even more. Nobody has that kind of track record, of course, but it’s certainly an ideal worth pursuing.