The quote above by Alex Webb puts me into a similar place to that we discussed earlier, when we considered Sam Abell’s quote (“My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it”).
Now I’m probably more conversant with the work of Alex Webb than I am with that of Sam Abell. I have been looking at Webb’s excellent book “The Suffering of Light” quite a lot recently, so I’d like to speculate on what he means.
I believe that, as an artist who has a very strong understanding of his own signature, Webb is saying “I know how my eye and my reflexes will react given a particular visual stimulus, and when I’m in the zone I’m confident that the mechanical things will happen which will give me the picture”. In short, he knows the sort of picture he wants to end up with, and relies on his finely tuned instincts to make it happen.
Webb’s palette is intense colour, impenetrable shadow and levels of perplexity within a frame. His eye is highly attuned to this. So much so that he is sufficiently confident to let his instincts take over when the picture is there. I’m confident it’s what Sam Abell was saying too.
That is, I guess, what being in the zone is all about. Sometimes, speaking for myself now, one tries to force it and it ends up being a bit of a dog’s breakfast.
However when it happens, and it is real, it is magic. I believe it’s what keeps me photographing - it’s like the ultimate adrenaline rush.