I will stretch my writing abilities I’m sure in this post. Not that I am intentionally doing so, but I feel I need to push myself beyond what is easy or comfortable..
In all honesty I have never been asked why I photograph, or why I choose to participate in the photograph creation process. That does not surprise me. I believe most who create art or participate in an artful creative process do not get asked why they do what they do. They are more likely asked how they do something or how they did a particular thing but to ask a photographer, musician, illustrator, painter, writer etc. why they create images, music, illustrations, paintings, or written works is rarely done. Why this is, I am not sure. It may be that one just accepts the fact that if someone creates they simply do so for whatever personal reason they have. This is or can be true, but there are far more in depth reasons.
So why do I? I would think at least initially, for the same reasons many others aforementioned and varying artists create what they create. Obviously not knowing this for sure, I can, based on experience and life conclude the reasons will have many similarities. Each with personal overtones.
The most straightforward answer would be to gain a greater understanding. This would be a general overview of why I choose to photograph what I do. An understanding not of the subject, at least initially, though a greater understanding is in part a desired conclusion. But a greater understanding of myself. The questions that I can ask myself are as old as civilization. The answers that are sought after are very likely as old as well, and for myself, at least at this point may not exist. Or quite possibly I have reached my current ability to properly describe them. Maybe I just do not yet recognize the answers that are staring me in the face.
I am sure there are many preconceived imaginings of what a nature, landscape, wilderness, wildlife or fill in your own descriptive word – photographer does and why. These can be and in many instances are true. But what else do you envision in this person? This what else may very well be 99% of what the photographer is attempting to explain in their work. This person who, when alone, far from the modern civilized ways of life, is at each moment searching. Searching for answers that exist but never easily found. Their search involves interpreting and creating that which they see into meaningful observations and hopefully understandable questions. This is done in the case with photography at least in part with a tool called a camera. As the sculpture exposes that which they see and feel is hidden within the stone with hammer and chisel so does the photographer expose what they see and feel. Exposing questions possibly more so than images to themselves so the process of seeking answers can take place. The answers I seek are and most likely always will be self serving. They are for me and me alone. They may share commonalities with others, but only in relationship with the initial questions.
This self serving approach can be like jet fuel. Possibly, jet fuel in a 1967 VW Beetle. Powerful stuff that can lead one down paths of trial and tribulations speeding out of control while attempting to do all, be all, and understand all. This obviously will end in complete frustration and possibly disaster. But when able to harness and exercise control over becomes fuel for life.
This process of exercising control may sound like an answer in and of itself. It is not or does not need to be “the” answer. It may not even be necessary that definitive answers be achieved at all. It is after all not about an answer but about the process of seeking an answer. It is about life with purpose and the ability to seek out that which one does not yet understand in hopes of better understanding life and themselves.
These thoughts, questions, and observations come to me in a somewhat random way. Never knowing when or why but taking place within my ability to recognize as being important. Important to me as to my process of photographing that which inspires me and thus inspires additional thoughts. It is through outward expression that I am able to shed additional light on such things. This is the process in which helps to push past the internal roadblocks taking me to places yet discovered, photographed, or expressed.