“Why photography?” is a question that I have not spent a lot of time thinking about over the last two or three years of my foray into the medium. But the overwhelming amount of my “artistic output” takes place through it, and yet, for some reason, I have never reflected on why that is.
I will say that to be quite honest, despite my waxing and waning interest in photography over the years, it is a domain of art that I have never spent a lot of time studying the same way one might study the history and the past masters of painting, sculpture, music, etc.. I know very little about “the greats” (aside from the four or five that I find resonant) and I have always engaged with photography in a more personal and private manner. So, the urge to dive a bit deeper into the reasons behind what seems to have largely become my medium of choice (next to poetry/prose but that will have to be another piece) seemed like an interesting avenue to explore. Without further ado:
Outlining the working conclusion that I have come to also requires expanding a bit on the motivating factors behind most of what I do. Those of you that have been following closely will have probably already heard much of the motivation behind my work but for those who have not, a crash course seems like a pre-requisite for a proper engagement with the reasons behind photography as my dominant medium of choice.
Questions like “Why do I do what I do? What am I going for with this?” are some of the ones that I have asked myself frequently in my (seemingly) unending attempt to clarify, understand, and generally get a grasp on the deeper forces at work behind these things that I dedicate so much of my time to. After visiting these questions again and again one starts to distill some more lasting answers.
The most pertinent one that I have come back to over time is that in all of my photographic work I am attempting to express, as well as I can, a certain kind of spiritual, religious, or mystical experience. And, over and above expressing this experience in a photograph (when I get it right!), it is an attempt to establish a means by which to share that experience.
I think it is also this aspect of attempting to share an experience and/or a perspective and a photograph’s unique ability to do so that has led to it holding such a central place in my work. A photograph allows me to give a viewer the ability to step into my perspective, or to have a glimpse into my experience in a very unique way, it allows a viewer to quite literally see as I saw.
It is this capability of a photograph to give someone the ability to in some sense “step into” these experiences and perspectives, that I wish to share, to “see as I saw,” that is so important to me about photography as a medium for my work. In capturing my experience of a tree, a river, or a mountain, and in being able to share that experience with someone in a photograph I am able to, with any luck, share a way of seeing and thinking about the world and ourselves which is deeply important to me.