As a photographer, I am concerned with producing photographs that are more than just pretty pictures. I want photos that tell a story, photos that touch the soul, and photos that make you reflect about life, about the choices that we make, about where we came from and where we will end up, photos that invoke awe and wonder. It is difficult when such work is surrounded by an onslaught of technographers with their ubiquitous cameras in every conceivable device broadcasting a visual-cacophony of mediocre imagery. All the while they flood the world with claims of artistry and self proclamation of greatness while presenting a mish-mash of cookie-cutter formulaic images of iconic locations coupled with two-bit “Jack Handy” styled affirmations which have nothing to do with the photo its coupled with. I suppose these affirmations are supposed to make you think they are some deep philosophical thinkers that have figured out life and how to live it. God forbid that we should look with a critical eye upon the work of the greatest photographer alive or that we should question the king of nature as the king traipses about in his kingdom.
Never mind the decades of experience behind the lens, the years of study into the life cycles and natural rhythms of creatures, plants and ecosystems, or the nature of light itself and how it interacts with objects to produce the images we see not to mention the eye itself. Never mind the lifetime of experiences spent trying to understand ones own internal psyche through years of spiritual practice so that one would understand the underpinnings of human as well as animal behavior. Those qualities of the artist are not as important in producing art as the tool used in making that art. A tool, the modern camera in this case, so technologically advanced that the “artist” has no real understanding of how that technology actually produces the images that it regurgitates.
If you sense frustration in my words, you would be correct. Presenting work that is either to subtle to be noticed or to sophisticated to be understood is becoming exceedingly disheartening. I produce my work with a discerning eye. I do not travel around the world looking for and presenting the next amazing unseen before image. I also do not produce thousands upon thousands of photos every year. My work is much more an internal examination of the state in which find myself physically, mentally as well as spiritually. Any person could find themselves in these same states and could relate to them personally. In times of difficulty and confusion, we all yearn for moments when an understanding into the circumstances that surround us is all that are needed to maintain our sanity. For me, those moments come visually more often than not, and if I happen to have my camera with me, it is captured in the hopes that others might benefit from that ephemeral epiphany as well.
I photograph what I find appealing and I let the photos find me rather that trying to force the photo I see in my head. Sometimes I do not know why I make a photo or what that image means at the time I capture it. Sometimes the meaning does not become apparent to me for years and at other times it is understood even before I trip the shutter. The photos look “real”, they feel “real” and yet they sometimes border on the surreal because whatever happens to be in the photo was never looked at in that specific way or in that flavor of light or from that certain perspective. If a photo elicits a question in the viewer then I have achieved my goal. The question could be as simple as “where is this?” or “what is this?” The point is that the image has made the viewer think. My photos are not made to be looked at in passing. The longer they are viewed the more interesting they become as the nuances of light and detail begin to emerge and objects are seen in them that we would not have seen otherwise even if the scene was observed in person. Since I do not follow the crowd from iconic location to iconic location, my photos are quite unique and usually buck the trends.
Trends come and go quickly. They appear out of nowhere and vanish almost as quickly. What is in fashion today will no longer be tomorrow. And those who are caught up in the rush of the caprice du jour enjoy a temporal euphoria that sweeps them away into oblivion such that no one can tell where they came from and where they had gone and become nothing more than a blip in our collective memory. At the same time, those that anchor themselves to tradition, integrity, honesty, quality and style, will find themselves apparently losing out in the race. However, what is not seen is that while everyone else has been washed away they are still standing, as firm as they ever were and still as reliable to others as they ever were. That is where true value lies, in that which is reliable. So, even though you might feel surrounded at times by the world racing around you, take solace in lasting traditions and pay no attention to the flotsam whizzing by.