Recently, I had an email exchange with a gentleman who attended one of my in-person workshops. He wrote out some thoughts responding to a blog post I’d written in March on photographs as interactions. That post was inspired by an On Being interview with Carlo Rovelli, author of the book, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. When Rovelli spoke of all reality being made up of interactions, it reminded me of how I approach a photograph – as a visual depiction of an interaction or relationship between photographer, subject, and even the viewer. My email exchange brought up some synchronous connections over the next few days.
Not So Random Thoughts
* A friend mentioned that a photographer friend of hers said that photography is all about getting the right light. She wondered what I thought. I said that if your motivation is primarily about getting the best photograph to sell or share, then of course “the right light” is very important. This is true for most photographers. And, I personally love paying attention to light.
However, for me the photograph is not my primary motivation; rather, it is to experience life fully. Life is happening 24 hours a day (okay, maybe 16) and the light is always different, neither good nor bad. It just is. My camera is a tool for being present and noticing life in all its guts and glory, so I work with the light that’s given to me. The photograph is a by-product.
* It’s not that I don’t appreciate a “good” photograph that others will like. I do. But, when I say that it’s not primary, I sometimes think that others see this as a cop out. It’s not. I still try to create the best photograph to convey the experience. You may be wondering why I photograph then, if it’s not about the photograph? Well, I still love photography and the ritual of clicking the shutter. It’s a visual homage to the experience, whether the photograph ever hangs on a wall or not.Read: Why Photograph?
* I’m taking a fabulous and free online program in close reading of modern poetry through UPenn, called ModPo. It’s stretching my brain (and heart) in all kinds of new ways. This past week there was a discussion of Cid Corman’s poem, It Isn’t for Want. Please read this poem before moving on, otherwise what follows won’t make much sense.
I was astonished to discover that Corman’s poem described perfectly my way of creating a photograph. While he is talking about writing a poem, I believe there are parallels with photography. Below I’ve reinterpreted the poem for myself (and maybe you too).
It isn’t that I have nothing to say (I do).
It isn’t that I’m not expressing myself through my photography (I am).
What I really want is for you to stop,
to linger, to be there with me,
to feel the experience,
to be connected.
* In his memoir, Inside Memory, Timothy Findley writes about remembering.
“I am the gloves my mother wore when she held my hand and the tones of her laughter. And I remember and will move forward, as all children do, to the heartbeats of my mother. That remembrance is the rhythm of my life. So memory is other people – it is little of ourselves.”
We exist in relation to the other people in our lives, and I would add, our relationship to places too. A photograph is a form of remembrance, a moment in time, evidence of an interaction. As you can probably tell, I’m trying to figure out how to articulate what I do. I’d love to know your thoughts.
Does any of this resonate with you?