I was just going through some photos from this year and remembered how much I liked this photo when I took it, and how much I still like it.
I began thinking about the compulsion that drives me to make photographs, the way I see them everywhere, and how I see different ones from most other people. People who don’t know anything about photography and aren’t particularly interested in it are always fascinated with my need to make images constantly, and when I show them the images I make, they are often full of equal parts praise and bemusement. “How did you see that? Wow, that’s cool.”
I don’t say this to slap myself on the back about my own photographs; in fact, I’m generally the most critical of my own images. A fellow blogger (who I very much admire) has, over the past year or two, moved away from making images that appeal to others and focused instead on making images that are meaningful to him. Isn’t that what we’re all doing? Isn’t that the point of images generally?
For me, the image-making progress is about much more than simply recording a moment. It’s about more than capturing an image that I found appealing. It’s also about more than creating something someone will like. Sure, we all go through the phase were praise is of utmost importance; the stage of photographic development where “likes” and “faves” are the gold standard. Many of us graduate out of that and go back to what made photography interesting and attractive to begin with.
For me, photography is about experiencing life. It’s about interacting with my environment and the people around me. My wife constantly reminds me how bad my memory is, but I find that I can recall virtually every photograph that I’ve ever taken: the place, the situation, the camera/lens/film used, the story of the image, etc. It’s not because I obsess about camera equipment (although I went through that phase, and yes I am a recovering gearaholic) but rather than creating an image burns that moment into my brain. So making images is how I experience and enjoy moments that are important to me and those around me. Rather than being detached by having a camera in front of my face, I’m actually more involved by being behind the camera. It’s as if being behind the camera allows me to really be who I am, and really open up.