Cecil Taylor is right: artists are workers.

In the words of  Aaron Siskind: “Talent or no, it’s the need to work that matters.”


Or the want to work. Ken Josephson wrote long ago that he dealt with photography every day, even if only by reading or through paperwork. It occurred to me that even though the process is episodic by nature, it’s possible (and beneficial) to create a continuum of sorts, just as one does in athletics or in music.

Cecil: “I was watching some writer, and he said, “Yes, I write five hours every day.” And I said to myself, “My, that’s really disciplined,” though I don’t think there’s any one way of going about it. You may not write, but you may read. But you are always thinking about the object of what you’re thinking about.”

Twyla Tharp: Some people might say that simply stumbling out of bed and getting into a taxicab hardly rates the honorific “ritual.” It glorifies a mundane act that anyone can perform. I disagree. First steps are hard; it’s no one’s idea of fun to wake up in the dark every day and haul one’s tired body to the gym… the quasi-religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep… Turning something into a ritual eliminates the question, Why am I doing this?… The ritual erases the question of whether or not I like it. It’s also a friendly reminder that I’m doing the right thing. (I’ve done it before. It was good. I’ll do it again.)

My goofy irregular system for darkroom work probably doesn’t work for anyone else. I’ll fall asleep around 8:30; wake up (with the last mouthful of dinner partially chewed) at 11:30 to drink a “doppio;” print from roughly midnight to two, or two-thirty; leave the prints on minimum flow wash, then finish the night’s rest with no apparent ill affects. But don’t emulate me, find your own ritual.