By the time I reached college, I hadn’t really thought of doing much with photography, except that I knew how to use a camera and thought, “Hey, I’ll take a photography class.” It was one of the many classes they offered in the Art department at my school, and as I wasn’t sure what I would choose to concentrate in, I dove in with both feet and really enjoyed the process.Read More
I've always thought of being a photographer as being like a collage artist; you have to take the pieces of the situation--the location, the flow of a day, the people--and make art in the moment out of how it all happens. This may make it sound like you're in a reactive state all day, passive watching as events occur. Quite the contrary. Instead, you're in a state of constant attention while also keeping the overall story in the back of your head. You have an agenda, like a jazz musician has the key of the piece and the rhythm with which to play against.
And as with all forms of art, photography is a lot about elimination and simplicity. It's focusing on telling the story in its most essential parts. Knowing your why (the story) determines what is interesting and what is not. It maintains focus.
And this is important for the photograph's final purpose: as a remembering tool. When we're in the present moment at a party, we're focused on our own experience of what that party--who we're talking to, getting a refill on a drink, or enjoying the food. My work is about telling other people (who weren't there) what the whole thing felt like, and helping the people who were there to remember what it felt like--to get the whole from the pieces, as in a collage.
That, for me, is what I hope for in my photographs; I want the moments and the people to be felt as a whole. This is hard, because a photograph is a literal flattening of a three-dimensional moment. But a photograph's power is more than its dimensions, and the whole of a story is understood through its many small moments... much like our very own lives.
And all daily moments are beautiful.
This is a bad photograph.
It's poorly composed. It's hard to tell what's going on.
I shot it through a dirty window.
But I love it. And here's why:
A photograph's artistic merit is not the same as its value. The sweet spot is when you make those two things come together in a single photograph.
But that doesn't always happen. It didn't happen for this photograph of my mom playing with her grandkids in the driveway in the afternoon. But here's the thing: I don't care that the composition is boring, that it's taken from far away, and that no one else may find it meaningful.
I will treasure this photograph because I want to remember (and I want my children to remember) that their grandma was the kind of person who would duel with them in the driveway. Even if it's not top-notch, this photograph helps me to remember how precious my family is.
Images that are both well-composed AND meaningful are a tricky thing to find. Sometimes I shoot something and the structure of the image is great, but a person's expression isn't quite right. Sometimes I shoot and the images aren't award-winning compositions, but the moment or person in the photograph is so meaningful, it trumps everything else.
While I keep picking up my camera, forever on the hunt for the well-composed, meaningful image, this remains true: bad photographs can still make great memories.
It’s tough to make time for your family sometimes. For photographers, sometimes it’s tough to make time to photograph your own family. But you know who gets neglected most often? It's the old folks.Read More