In my recent travels and my travels in life in general I have had the opportunity to meet and chat with many photographers that approach photography from many different directions. Last week for instance I had the opportunity to meet and discuss photography with a photographer that runs a photography studio in a planned art community called Serenbe in Georgia. His work is very beautiful and highly technical. The Ansel Adams style of photography, still using film and traditional darkroom techniques. Then I went to see my friend that owns Off the Square studios in Woodstock Georgia. He works in digital format and is what I would consider a modern day photographer. His format is digital and his darkroom is a computer. He also is a very technical photographer. Where I have always considered myself a hack and more of an artists that uses a camera than a photographer.
These days photography for me is all about the moment. It is an excuse to explore and a means of enjoying every moment. Like both of these guys, I look at photography as my job not just a hobby. I try to shoot everyday, promote my art and keep some kind of momentum going with my name. Unlike these guys, I really do have to make my own schedule and create my own niche. I get asked all the time what kind of photography I do and I always say art because its open ended. It always leads to greater dialog. I have worked in film like Stephan from Serenbe and now in digital like Chris but I would say the key difference with all of us is our own unique eye. I think anyone can master the technical end of photography, I mean it is pure science, especially if your dealing with actual film. It is all about how the medium reacts to light. It doesn't matter if that medium is film or a sensor. It is still just reacting to light. So the technical end is how do I manipulate and utilize that light. That is the easy part. The hard part comes when I ask how can the manipulation of that light create a story. That is were the individual eye of a photographer comes in. They become the story teller.
Everyone has heard the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" and any photographer that has been asked to explain a particular photograph would agree with you. Any person that has been moved by a particular photograph will also agree with you. There is something about a photograph done by a good story teller that can invoke emotions that words can not. I tell people all the time that if my images invoke an emotional response of any kind I have succeeded. It doesn't matter if they love it, hate it, it makes them happy, sad or even angry. If it gets a reaction then they connected with it. We communicated on a level beyond words. It is a very personal instance, what I captured and saw with my eyes they experienced and felt with their heart. It is the greatest of compliment to me as an artist.
Now of course my style is very meditative, trying to give the observer a sense of contemplation. So I get many statements that start of with "This reminds me of" or "This makes me think of" I enjoy that kind of feedback. It tells me I am doing my job. I am in fact creating that contemplative platform, that meditative mood. When I seen my book for the first time in physical printed form it really captured that mood. I wasn't sure how it would turn out since I picked the images based on the "calebism", so the images were not at all my best photographs, they were the best ones for the statement however. So I was happy about the way it turned out. I was even happier watching peoples reaction to it. I could see them contemplate, look at the image and contemplate some more. That makes me very proud.
I have a great deal of respect for artists of all kinds. I am fascinated by any photographer. The wide range of work that we do is amazing. From events to landscapes we capture people lives or existence as a whole. We all have our skills to offer and together we tell the story of humanity. I am so very proud of my fellow photobugs, they allow me to be the photo-monk. Because of them I don't have to have the patients of Ansel Adams, or be good at shooting weddings. I don't have to handle a roomful of toddlers or learn to scuba dive. Because of them I can be a wandering photo-monk capturing that illusive moment and they can capture the important life moments. Together, we can tell the whole story. The emotional, spiritual and physical plight of humankind. Shoot on my friends the million eyes of god are we.
The rantings of a photo-monk.