“Fifteen years ago, I stopped being a writer and became a photographer. On a sweltering New York August day, I was writing about winter in Japan. Writers, it seemed, didn’t have to go to the places they wrote about. I became a photographer because photographers did have to be where they wanted to take pictures, or at least their cameras did.”
– Charles Harbutt
I want to be a photographer so I can go to places. But I also want to be a writer so I can think about the places I’ve been to. Living and thinking. Thinking and writing. Writing and living.
The sabbatical (and now a forced one because of COVID-19) is working. I really want to get back to taking photos now. I feel not simply rested but energised and motivated. And I really want to write about the photos I have taken. I think that’s becoming quite clear—and it was this part I wanted to make clear to myself during this period. What is my one thing? What is the thing that I thought was missing from my photography? This might be it. Words were missing from my photography.
Words help me to make sense of this world—they are how I think. I believe they can also help me to create photography work that is deeper and more meaningful. I wrote last year that I don’t want to continue to take only beautiful photos for commercial clients. I want to go further into the world and do work that can move the needle. Which needle? That’s part of what I must find out for myself. But I wanna grow as a photographer and a human being. My camera MUST be a tool that helps to bring about positive change in this world, and to do that I have to be uncomfortable and walk into new and unfamiliar territories.
Growth is uncomfortable. But staying the same is worse.
I am reminding myself to discard all my superficial ideas about what constitutes positive change. I’m also reminding myself to learn, learn, learn, and to be like water as I continue to grow into a photographer-writer who can create work that makes this world a slightly kinder place for other human beings.
The road is long. But I’m taking one step forward now. I think each new step will bring me more clarity and confidence, so wish me luck!