Photography is like sex
I contributed this to a conversationon on Art & Perception
My old Nikon FM collects dust on my dresser becuase the digital darkroom transformed what I had come to know as photography. It moved me from picture taking to image making. Now the only real "photographic" moment is the end stage of the manufacturing process when a Digital C-print is pulled. For me it has been important to have the "photographic" in the making of the object while disregarding the "photographic" in the image making process. So in a traditional sense, for me, there's not much photography in my process to enjoy.
What I do enjoy is where image making intersects with storytelling - you frame the world - frame a point of view. In some ways "view finder" better describes what it is. The really emancipating thing has been to find/seek/uncover the authentic - the essence of the emotional connection in the image without the "view" being my truth or something close to me. I'm always chasing that both in my own work and when I'm looking at other's work.
When I first posted on Fotolog in June 2003, I called my page "A photographic imagination". I had just read Sontag's On Photography and I wanted to put a marker down that these images should not be viewed as documents - they were manipulated and as such the images were not representative but representational.
I was also beginning to undestand how pixel based display was a great democratizer - all these screen images were made of the same substance. A Picasso painting, a DaVinci drawing, a deep space image form the Hubble Telescope or an Ansel Adams photograph were certainly different objects in the real world but on the screen they were just a collection of pixels. The playing field was leveled, the image content would be judged on it's own aesthetic and against every other image that could be displayed. The eye would decide.
From the start I wanted to give people something to think about - but not as a message or a lesson or a meaning. I think I lacked the confidence to articulate that early on. But it is there like the manipulation is as part of my whole apporach. I want the viewer active to "look into the image" rather than just looking at the image.
I am not an equipment geek. If the device captures images without a flash, has a memory card I can read and a charged battery I'd probably use it. I don't need a perfect capture, I want to make a capture perfect. I need raw materials so I "harvest" images, hundreds per day. I'll capture till I drain my battery. I hardly look at the LCD when I am shooting, I try never to stop moving. I capture everything at. low res 640 x 480. I have lost any connection to the preciousness of any individual snap.
I use Flickr to post my images because it is a distribution point and provides a publication platform and an audience. I want an audience. Of course this serves two masters because I can move easliy from presenter to an audience to being part of the audience.
At the point where I was searching for a way of working - first Fotolog and then Flickr gave me a daily production and publishing structure and a format to see a body of work developing.
It allows me to be prolific without purpose and organically find threads in the work. The dark side is that there is such a need to get the next image - almost an obligation. I realize this is a product of my own need for immediate gratification. I tend to ration the published images to one per day. The sheer volume of images posted on both of these services is a stark reminder of how insignificant any single image can be. It is quite intimidating.
I am always surprised by what people connect to in an individual image, what they are moved by. I am starting to sense a bond. It is not that I said something nice about their picture or made them a contact so they say something nice about mine. There is something we have in common, something they know and I know.
In the end to me photography is like sex, the intersection of what interests you and what you can get. This is what I can get.