This is not an easy blog post to write. It’s a large subject that crosses a lot of aspects of my life. I’ve always loved photography. Even before the only photography class I took in college, I loved it.
We used large format cameras in that class and I spent a lot of time in the dark room working with my images, making jerry-rigged dodging and burning tools and wiggling them over my print, walking around corners and getting scared by people in the dark room, watching prints come to life in a tray, and many other enjoyable experiences.
My real photography ‘ah ha’ moment came when I was sitting in on a senior’s photography critique. One of his images of a small, feable twig hanging in from the top of the frame in the foreground with an out of focus background of solid sandstone behind it made my blood pump through my body with a tingle. I wasn’t looking for this reaction but it found me. It was like condensing a powerful emotional experience into a single instant. I realized the impact that a photograph could have.
One big, common place aspect I still think is crazy and don’t think people really consider enough is that the camera/lens can see things we can’t see with our eyes. Just think about that for a second. Here is a tool that can change the way you look at the world, literally and figuratively. By its very nature a camera reflects our world different from our own eyes. That is powerful.
I love photography for the same reason I enjoy cooking: I get to create something. (I just happen to enjoy photography more.) It allows me to express things I’m feeling inwardly, in an outwardly way, especially without words (I’m not a big talker).
I love getting that spark of an idea: “That would be cool if . . .” and then carrying it through to fruition. That usually means I have to get outside of my comfort zone.
I used to think I’d have to come up with an excuse if people saw me lugging around camera equipment: “Ummmm . . . it’s for a student project.” (Even though I’m no longer in school.) Now, I don’t really care what people think as much. I get too much out of the process of taking a photograph for that to be as large of a hurdle as it used to be.
Granted, I still struggle with making the effort it takes to go get an image I want. Either because I know the effort it will take, but usually because I’m afraid of failure. It’s what Seth Godin, and others, call my ‘lizard brain’ telling me to slow down and be careful. It is something I think we all struggle with to varying degrees. I know I do.
Photography has helped me remember, learn, and explore myself, nature, ideas, triumphs, and heartaches. I recently went through a divorce and photography was a cathartic tool to unleash things that are more difficult to express with words. Photos have acted as my journal over the recent years and articulated my thoughts and feelings better than words could. Now I just need to get in a habit of getting those images off my computer and onto a print!
No matter the course my life takes I know that I will always appreciate the still image as a tool and what it allows us to do. I get excited about the photographs I have yet to take and enjoy the constant evolution of my understanding and fascination with the art of photography.