Preparing my portfolio for review this week, I realized there's still so much to learn and room for me to mature not only as a photographer but also as a citizen of this country and of this world. I noticed that I've veered away from what I used to better understand ... photography is not always about making a "beautiful" picture. It is really about capturing the journey of the photographer or the subject ... the journey of light, the mind, the journey of feeling, the experience of experiencing and understanding -- wisdom. I've gotten caught up in the aesthetics of things and have forgotten the personal, the emotional -- I've lost the drive to capture that "magical image" which holds beauty as well as knowledge, reality, truth, pure feeling.
At the end of class a few days ago, one of my english professors told us to go out and take on the wide wild sea that's before us. I know she wasn't completely serious, but I think, at least at this point in my life, that I often forget to take a good look of what's really in front of me. The world is warm, cold, funny, serious, sparkling, dull, banal, complex, confusing, clear ___ insert your own adjective, etc. etc. etc. And if photography or art can help us to internalize these layer of meaning scatter throughout the world, why should we not use it as a medium of exploration? This is getting really existential, but I've realize that I need to use the camera to explore these realities and complexities. I want to say more than "this is a really pretty picture." It can be pretty, but why is it pretty, what does it capture that makes it beautiful or smart or real or unclear.
I'll end with a piece from Faulkner's Nobel prize acceptance speech... (Written about the horrific aftermaths of war... but I think we can still apply this same spirit and wisdom to our own creative pursuits.)
"I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."