Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
I just returned from a rejuvenating trip to New York City. I love that city with an inexplicable passion, and have ever since I first travelled there in the early 80’s. And it’s a feeling that has come back each of the 12 or 13 times since then.
I went this time, for many reasons, but partly to make images. In every location we visited, others were taking pictures too. Now, many of these pics were no doubt travel snapshots and the ubiquitous selfies that are taken to prove to friends you went somewhere…
But I think the urge to photograph New York goes deeper than that. Everywhere you look in New York, there is so much visual richness and energy. I am convinced that visitors reach for their cameras and phones in an effort (not always totally conscious) to try to capture and take home some of the beauty and awe they experience.
At least I know I do.
This was taken in the magnificent Astor Hall of the New York Public Library.
- Double exposure: Leaves and the river in the fall
I never know where I’m going to find creative inspiration next…Sometimes, I see or feel something in other’s people’s images or words. I may experience a sharp flash of insight or a soft sense of recognition that washes over me like a fine mist at the seashore.
Inspiration may come as I look through the viewfinder, or I may not feel it until I see my raw images onscreen. It may abandon me for days…only to return with a shudder of realization or a frisson of enthusiasm.
One thing I know is that human beings are all creative. That’s one characteristic we all share — although how we express it differs radically. Sometimes it is used for ill. Most often, for good.
How we choose to live out our creativity is at once a deeply serious yet profoundly joyous matter. And how we engage creatively with ourselves and with the world deserves some conscious deliberation once in a while…
Since this is a blog about photography…the question becomes how do we talk about what we do as photographers? I don’t mean the “how” — there is an untold number of informative books, articles, videos and courses about that.
I mean the why.
I ask myself why I am so entranced by pointing this boxy black gizmo at patterns of light and shadow and colour out in the world. Freeman Patterson offers one answer that speaks to me. But there are also others who help me understand my own feelings about photography — about creativity, originality and authenticity.
Lately David Duchemin and Kim Manley Ort have added to the depth of this important discussion with utterly thoughtful contributions. Each has just published a heartfelt reflection on the art and craft of photography and why they do what they do that I urge you to read.
I know I love a piece of writing when I find myself copying down several quotes from a short piece. Thank you Kim and David.
Photography, for me, is not so much about self-expression or even expression of the subject, as it is an expression of the connection between the two. Essence meets essence.
Kim Manley Ort
Evolution of a Photographer: Part 1
Evolution of a Photographer: Part 2
Chasing authenticity is like chasing originality. Spend too much time doing it and you’ll lose sight of the thing you were aiming for. Explore. Play. Follow your gut. You’ll know when it’s you and when it’s not.
On authenticity. Again.