I was helping my daughter apply to an art pre-college program for the summer when I realized sometime very important. My daughter, a budding artist, has a well-defined artist’s statement.
Me? Not so much.
That made me step back and think. I always joked that I was a photographic artist but I never gave it any deeper thought. Why? Because I was always trying to make the best photos I could technically that tried to convey a moment.
I focused on the what, the where, and the when, but never about the why.
That “why” hit me like a ton of bricks. I had no why.
After I helped her with her application I went out with my camera and down to the lake. I snapped a few photos of a Great Blue Heron. It wasn’t my best photo but I felt like I had to go out and work some things out of my head.
I had to go shoot. I had to hear the familiar click of the shutter.
After I shot some photos I started to feel better. My mind turned to the thoughts about how I spent all those years on Flickr making new friends and competing in photo contests. I remember how much better my photos got after that.
Then I remember how I drifted away from all that, how I got angry and lost all my interest to pick up a camera. For years my camera gathered dust as life passed me by. Sure I snapped images with my iPhone but I haven’t made anything that made my heart sing.
I realized that I’m just a technical photo snapper. I can make decent photographs but I never have anything to say with them.
I wondered, do I even want to say anything with my art? Is it really art? Do I really want to be an artist, like my daughter?
I’m so jealous of her, she knows exactly what message or idea she wants to convey with her work. All her digital work has a theme that’s evolved over time, and her message is clear as day.
I spent the next few days thinking deeply about this. I stepped back and looked at my motivations. What are my motivations to create? Why write and why photograph at all?
I started writing in earnest last year. It was a departure from my technical writings and I focused on topics that called to me. I started to write about love, relationships, parenting, living a better life and becoming a holistic person. I’m interested in understanding what it means to be a man, a true man, not one that marketing and the movies want to sell to us.
Over the course of they year I had found my writing voice and now I’m on a journey to find my photographic voice. I wanted to speak out the words of my truth in my photos. I just don’t want to make pretty pictures anymore.
I want to make photos of substance, photos that act as the visual part of my storytelling. The storytelling of all the good and bad of a life, stories where all my brothers and sisters can commiserate together and we feel it together.
I took this photo after my father passed away and it was a way for me to work through my grief. Here is a fat, balding, naked old man in a corner crying. I didn’t expect to cry when I set up the shot but then I did, knocked over by the waves of mourning for my father.
Whatever voice I was looking to speak came out in this photo, at least for me.
I want to do more that, not just photos of myself but in this vain. This is the journey I’m on to find my photographic voice.
This is the next chapter of my life. To be a Maker, Writer, and Visual Storyteller.