FotoWeek Seminar: The Nature of Transition

Last night, I braved the cold to attend a seminar entitled The Nature of Transition by photographer Steve Uzzell. It was part of FotoWeek, the seven day celebration of photography in Washington.

The theme of the seminar was on transition in our lives, how it is something to be embraced rather than feared. After all, as humans we’re constantly in a state of change as we live and evolve. Uzzell, who primarily shoots commercial work, got the idea for the presentation after hearing from clients that their organizations were in transition. As someone who received their last regular paycheck in 1975, he thought he had something to say on the subject – and he had the photos to communicate his message. 

For lack of a better term, I’d call his presentation a “magical slide show.” After an introduction to set the stage, he turned down the lights and talked in a conversational tone about the universal nature of transition while he showed iconic pictures from his work over the years. We’re drawn to transition, for its promise of growth, movement and clarity. It’s the most dynamic place to be. But how do we get in transition and best take advantage of it?

1. Curiosity. All transitions begin with wanting to know what’s down the road, behind that door or over that bridge (one of his favorite photographic subjects). As a species, we’re naturally curious. This curiosity leads to growth and away from stasis.

2. Passion. Uzzell illustrated this point with a lovely photo of a little boy pretending to conduct a band. That’s what passion is – we need to get out of our seats and take part in the action, drawn in by our curiosity about the experience. Passion provides the energy necessary to drive through the transition. 

3. Commitment. This is the courage to sail into the storm, to take the hard way when everyone else takes the easy one. Uzzell had a great photo of a couple ignoring an easy trail to the summit of a mountain in favor of a more difficult route. Fueled by passion, you’re committed because you feel mentally and physically engaged by what you’re doing. And by completing what you thought to be impossible, the limits impose by your own mind are removed.

4. Accountability. You must be willing to accept the consequences of your actions – and inactions. You must stick things through.

Transitions have a beginning, middle and an end, which is the start of a new transition. Seen this way, being in transition is not something temporary but our permanent state. Why avoid it?

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer and photographer from Washington, DC. He is the author of the mystery novel The Swamp, as well as articles, short stories and screenplays. In his spare time, he likes wandering about the city with a camera.

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